Lilley makes cut in WNBA

Lilley makes cut in WNBA

PHOENIX, Ariz. – Former Oregon guard Taylor Lilley made the final roster for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, it was announced today.

Lilley was not drafted by the Mercury, but received an invite to training camp and has been with the club for over two weeks.

The defending 2009 WNBA champions are coached by Corey Ganies, who took over for current Oregon women’s basketball head coach Paul Westhead following the 2007 season after Westhead led the Mercury to its first WNBA championship. Gaines also played for Westhead at Loyola Marymount during the 1987-88 season.

“Our entire program is extremely happy for Taylor,” Westhead said. “She is one of the hardest workers I have ever been around on the basketball court, and certainly deserves this opportunity to compete at the next level. Obviously I am very familiar with the system that Phoenix operates, and I know she will have the chance to learn, develop and flourish under coach Gaines.”

Last Saturday, Lilley scored 11 points coming off the bench in a 106-78 exhibition win over the Chinese National Team.

Phoenix opens the 2010 regular season in defense of its second WNBA title on Saturday, hosting the Los Angeles Sparks. The game will be aired at 11 a.m. (PT) on ESPN 2.

Lilley left Oregon as undoubtedly the program’s most prolific 3-point shooter. Under Westhead’s uptempo system, the senior set a trio of records with the Ducks, and left the women’s basketball program with the single-game (9), single-season (124) and career (270) records for 3-pointers.

During the 2009-10 season, Lilley averaged a team-leading and career-high 17.7 points per game, prompting her selection to the Pac-10 all-conference team for the second time in her career. The fourth-year senior was also voted Team MVP by her Oregon teammates.

The Newhall, Calif., native’s 124 3-pointers during the 2009-10 season led the country, and ranked third all-time in NCAA single-season history. The total was also a new Pac-10 single-season record as Lilley became the first player in conference history to reach triple digits from behind the arc. Lilley’s 270 career 3-pointers rank third all-time in the Pac-10.

Lilley scored 601 points during her senior year, a number that ranks fifth in Oregon single-season history. She closed her career with the Ducks having scored 1,415 career points, which ranks seventh all-time. During her tenure, Lilley posted 69 double-figure scoring games, which included 26 games of 20 points or more, and three games of 30 points or more. She also led the Ducks in scoring 44 times during her career.

Oregon finished the 2009-10 season with a record of 18-16, the program’s most wins since the 2004-05 season. Oregon advanced to the third round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament before falling shy of the quarterfinals after a 71-57 loss to eventual WNIT champion California on March 25 at Mac Court.

Lilley is the seventh Oregon women’s basketball player to make a WNBA roster since the league’s inaugural season in 1997. Cathrine Kraayeveld is currently the only other former UO women’s basketball player presently playing in the WNBA. Kraayeveld played five seasons for the New York Liberty (2005-09) but was traded to the Chicago Sky on March 30 of this year.