EUGENE, Ore. — After six losses to open Pac-12 play, the Oregon Women’s Basketball team defeated the Washington State Cougars 82-66 on Friday night.
Going into the game, head coach Paul Westhead was weary about their performances in their previous games.
“Winning is a lot better than losing. I’m happy because they earned it after they sustain some tough losses,” Westhead said. “I think deep down they wanted to be saying that we’re really better than that, but nobody wants to hear that until you go out and win a game. I’m confident that we can keep going and win some more games.”
Jillian Alleyne, who is the nation’s leader in rebounds at 14.7 per game prior to Friday night’s performance, had a double-double with 21 points and 19 rebounds.
“This game was huge for us. Now we know how to do it. We know how to pull out of close games,” Alleyne said.
Going into halftime, Oregon maintained the lead with a score of 33-28. Westhead felt that after halftime, his team struggled to maintain the momentum they sustained during the first half.
“The start of the second half for us is always a mystery. It looks like our team is a little sluggish. This time, we were up and our team had a little trouble to get going,” Westhead said. “We bring our team out and we warm up and do slides and shuffles. But, it only lasted a minute or two. They got a couple of drives on us, then we were right back on it. Jillian was really good inside.”
The Ducks played without team captain Ariel Thomas, for the second straight game due to an ankle injury. Westhead is not sure when Thomas will return to compete.
“She hasn’t practice yet. Practice is usually an indicator,” Westhead said. “We’re going to have her practice tomorrow. She hasn’t been with us. She’s been with the trainer in the pool and the water treadmill.”
Lexi Petersen assumed the starting role at point guard, while Thomas recovers from her injury. Petersen had 13 points and six rebounds to aid the Ducks in their win.
"I was really just trying to distribute to my teammates," Petersen said. "They were all running for me, so I figured I'd reward them with some baskets."
The Ducks of Oregon were also without Liz Brenner, a key figure in terms of their defensive strategy. Brenner left the team to pursue her volleyball career, and to participate in an upcoming tryout with USA Volleyball.
“I will miss Brenner in practice. I do understand where she’s coming from,” Alleyne, who regularly roomed with Brenner on trips, said. “But, if volleyball’s what she wants to do, then she needs to pursue that. But, Megan is going to be able to step up and give us what Liz did.”
Other key players in the Oregon Women’s win over the Cougars were Chrishae Rowe, who was the leading scorer with 24 points, and Danielle Love, who had 14 rebounds and seven points.
The Ducks will resume conference play this Sunday when they face the Washington Huskies, who defeated the Ducks during three of their last four match-ups. The game is at Matthew Knight Arena and begins at 12:00 p.m.