The Oregon Ducks played perhaps their most exciting game in recent memory against the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, in Matthew Knight Arena. After being down by double digits midway in the second period, the Ducks posted an impressive rally to take the lead, and the game, with 1.8 seconds left, 67-65.
Said Oregon guard Katelyn Loper, “We fight. Coach has been asking from the beginning what we want to be known for and I think the word now is fighting. We always fight until the end.”
The Bruins started the game with the lead, and built a seven point lead early in the first period, but Oregon battled to close within a point at 20-19. But from there the Ducks fell victim to sloppy play and shots that would not go in allowing the Bruins to extend their lead to double digits before going into the half up nine, at 42-33.
Not much changed for most of the first 11 minutes of the second period. Then the Ducks found the spark they were lacking with a pair of back-to-back three point shots by Katelyn Loper and Lexi Bando.
An increased resolve at the defensive end helped pave Oregon’s way back, with Oregon capping a 15-2 run with 3:54 left in the game to bring the score to 62-60 after a three point play by Jillian Alleyne.
Alleyne then single-handedly took the game over, scoring the Ducks’ remaining seven points, including the game winning layup on a pass from Lexi Petersen. Oregon’s lead with 1.8 seconds remaining was their only lead of the day, but it was the only one that mattered.
“All our shooters had confidence,” said Alleyne after the game. “Lexi Peterson ran this team, and I think that once Katelyn and Lexi Bando hit back-to-back three’s I knew that we were coming for this one.”
Coach Kelly Graves added, “I was really proud of our basketball team tonight. The composure with which we played in the last six minutes of the game was tremendous.”
Nirra Fields led UCLA with 15 points, while Kacy Swain was the rebound leader at nine.
Alleyne played a monster game, the second best of her career, and scored 30 points to go with her 25 rebounds – with 10 of them being offensive rebounds. It was her 59th career double-double, and her fourth career 30-20 game.
“This is my 28th year of coaching and I don’t think I have ever had a player have a more impressive performance…to see her cap it off with a game winning shot was something special,” said Graves. “She really played tonight like that All-American I know she can be.”
Katelyn Loper scored 17 points for the Ducks, including 6-7 from the line. Oregon’s free throw shooting was better in this game, with the team shooting 15 of 21 for 71.4%.
After dropping their last six games, the Ducks needed the boost that this win provided.
“We are making progress; there’s no question,” said Graves. “As a coach, that’s all I can ask. If we continue to get better and build on this, then I think we’re going to be a tough out for somebody later in the season.”
Oregon will need to keep improving if they’re going to overcome the USC Trojans, who defeated the Ducks by 16 points when they played on Jan. 3rd. The Ducks and Women of Troy tip off Monday Feb. 2nd, at 5:00 pm in Matthew Knight Arena.
~ Carl Blackwell
For more click to continue on to http://ducknews.com