Kelly Graves said the Ducks have a pep in their step.
Oregon (10-11, 3-7 Pac-12) hopes to channel the confidence it’s riding after sweeping the Los Angeles schools last weekend to snap a six game losing streak. The Ducks play Washington State this Friday at 5 p.m. in Pullman, Washington (Pac-12 Networks).
“It’s amazing what a couple wins can do,” Graves said after Thursday’s practice.
Oregon erased a 14-point deficit against UCLA to pull out a 67-65 win on Saturday and a strong defensive effort against USC earned the Ducks a 63-57 win Monday.
Washington State (13-8, 4-6) features two of the top scorers in the conference in Lia Galdeira (20.0 points per game) and Tia Presley (17.6 ppg).
“They’re almost unguardable in a lot of ways,” Graves said. “If they’re on, they’re just difficult to stop. I think Lia Gladeira is one of the best guards in the country.”
Galderia leads the conference in steals with 74. WSU as a team ranks second in the Pac-12 in free-throw percentage (74.3 percent).
“This whole practice, we’ve been dialed in,” Jillian Alleyne said on Thursday. “We haven’t been focusing on the good things we’ve done, because it’s already given us a confidence boost, but really on working on what we need to work on.”
Graves said the team watched film from Oregon’s January 18 79-76 loss to WSU in Eugene. He said the team realized how many small errors the Ducks committed.
“It was almost hard to watch,” Alleyne said of the film.
Despite the back-to-back wins, Alleyne said Graves came into practice this week emphasizing areas of improvement, rather than celebrating the wins.
“I’m not sure we played all that great this last weekend,” Graves said. “We won the two games, which is terrific, and we’re defending better, but we still have a long ways to go.”
Alleyne posted a two impressive performances against UCLA and USC, tallying 48 total points and 38 rebounds. She was awarded a trio of awards: Pac-12 player of the week, espnW and U.S. Basketball Writers Association national player of the week honors.
“It’s a huge confidence booster,” Alleyne said. “Those are the kind of things that fuel you up. Coming back from losses at Arizona, I was definitely rock bottom. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. I can’t believe this is happening again.’”
Alleyne said her kickboxing class she’s taking winter term has helped her with aggressiveness and alertness.
“It helps with my footwork,” Alleyne said. “I love the footwork that’s put into kickboxing and that really transgresses over to basketball. That light on your feet moving, especially on defense.”
WSU’s head coach June Daugherty could pick up her 400 career win against the Ducks. WSU currently holds an RPI of 46 and is currently projected as the 11th seed in the latest bracketology release.
Follow Jonathan Hawthorne on Twitter @Jon_Hawthorne