EUGENE, Ore. – The University of Oregon women’s basketball team had to depend on made free throws and tough rebounding down the stretch to secure its first Pac-12 win of the 2012 campaign by taking down rival Washington, 88-86, on Saturday afternoon at Matthew Knight Arena.
With 16 seconds left in the game, and after trailing by as many as16 points in the second half, sophomore Deanna Weaver knocked down a crucial three-pointer, giving Oregon its first lead of the second half.
The Huskies followed on the other end of the floor with a solid look in the final seconds, but fellow sophomore Danielle Love blocked Majorie Heard’s attempt. The ball went out of bounds and was in possession of Oregon, and Husky guard Kellie McCann-Smith fouled senior Nia Jackson to send her to the line with under a second remaining. Jackson made one of her two attempts as UW did not have enough time to attempt a final shot.
After trailing by as many as 16 points at the 10:56 mark in the second half, the Oregon offense, which was stifled in UO’s loss to Washington State on Thursday, came alive.
Freshman Lexi Petersen and Weaver knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to cut the deficit down to 10. With the momentum going, Jackson took an elbow to the face, causing a gash and was removed from the game, but returned a little over a minute later.
Senior Jasmin Holliday tallied the Ducks’ next five points to get UO back in the game at 72-65 with 8:17 left to play. Sophomore Ariel Thomas, who had a tremendous night from beyond the arc and on the offensive glass, stripped the ball from a Husky and raced down the court for the easy layup to cut UW’s lead to a single digit at 73-72 with seven minutes of basketball left.
Jackson was fouled under the basket by Husky Regina Rogers at the 5:59 mark, sending the Huskies’ leading scorer and rebounder to the bench for the duration of the battle. Coming into the game, Rogers had tallied double figures in nine straight contests, but was held to eight points by the Duck defense. Jackson knocked down both free throws for the game’s seventh tie.
Oregon kept battling, but every time the Ducks would cut the Husky lead down, McCann-Smith had an answer from beyond the arc. McCann-Smith’s career high coming into the night was 14 points, but she knocked down six three-points en route to scoring a game-high 26 points.
Love tried to give Oregon the lead on a three-pointer with 1:25 to play, but she missed. Thomas got the long rebound and was fouled. Thomas secured both free throws, cutting the Husky lead to three. With 32 seconds of action left, Jackson was fouled by McCann-Smith, and stepped up big, making both attempts to cut the lead to one.
Heard then made only one-of-two free throw attempts with 28 seconds left, setting up Weaver’s winning shot.
Thomas ended the game with a team-leading 21 points, including shooting 5-for-13 from beyond the arc while pulling down a career-high tying seven boards. Jackson recorded 19 points, earning 11 of those at the free-throw line. Weaver, Holliday and Loera rounded out the Ducks with double figures with 13, 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Ducks head out on the road next week to play fourth-ranked Stanford at 7 p.m. at Maples Pavilion on Thursday night, before traveling across the bay to take on California on Saturday at 2 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on KUGN 590 AM.
The Ducks will return to Matthew Knight Arena to host Arizona at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 12 and Arizona State at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14.
Notes: The Ducks used their fourth different starting lineup of the season…fifth straight season Oregon has won the Duck-Husky rivalry game in Eugene…Ariel Thomas recorded her first 20-point game of the season…Thomas’ 21 points is her season high…Thomas’ five made three-pointers is a career high,a nd her seven rebounds matched a career best…Nia Jackson made a career-high 11 free throws…Jackson’s 19 points were a season high…Oregon moves to 4-0 when five players record double figures in the scoring column…the last time UO had five players in double figures was a 89-77 win over UC Irvine on Nov. 25…Oregon is 6-0 when they score 80 or more points…the Ducks recorded season highs on three-pointers made and attempted with 13 and 38, respectively…the win is the first when Oregon has had to overcome a halftime deficit this year…UO also set new season highs in free throws made (27) and attempted (34)…the Ducks also had a season-high nine blocks…for the seventh time this season, Oregon has allowed an opponent to knock down at least 10 three-pointers…for the ninth consecutive game, UO has allowed an individual player to tally at least five three-pointers…