At halftime of the game against No. 25 Stanford, No. 6 Oregon, which led 41-32, knew what to expect in the second half.
“We actually called that at halftime,” Oregon head coach Kelly Graves said. “We said, ‘No. 12 is gonna come out ‘cause she didn’t do much in the first half.’ We figured that she was gonna do what she did.”
Graves was right as Stanford’s Brittany McPhee put up 31 second-half points to finish the game with a whopping 33 total points as Oregon fell 78-65 to the Cardinal, who are now tied with the Ducks in first place in the Pac-12. The loss is Oregon’s first defeat in the 21 games which the Ducks have led at halftime this season.
“It was a quiet locker room, I can tell you that,” sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu said. “So I think we’re gonna let this hurt a little bit but tomorrow we’re coming to practice and we’re gonna get ready for the Washington schools, and they’re gonna give us their best games as well so we’re gonna put this game behind us maybe, you know, in a few hours — a few days actually.”
McPhee’s stellar performance is reminiscent of Oregon’s loss to Mississippi State in December, which saw the Bulldogs’ Teaira McCowan and Victoria Vivians score 35 and 30 points, respectively.
Oregon started fast and took a 9-0 lead. The tempo was set largely by Ionescu, who was driving to the basket, pulling up for 3s and bringing down rebounds. But, the Cardinal rallied back to grab the lead by the end of the first quarter.
Oregon bounced back in the second to take the lead at half but following the intermission, it was all Stanford.
The Ducks shot 50 percent at halftime, while the Cardinal shot at 38 percent. By the end of the game, Oregon’s shooting percentage dropped to 40 while Stanford climbed to 47 percent.
Part of that drop off included Ruthy Hebard, who scored all of her 16 points in the first half. Hebard snagged eight rebounds but one attempted shot in the second half stifled Oregon’s presence in the paint.
“I think our team just had to be reminded this is what she likes to do and we need to do something about it,” Stanford head coach Tara VanderVeer said. “I think we worked harder to not let her get in deep, get her spot. I thought Brit did a really nice job of doubling and trying to make other people make shots.”
Ionescu, who led the Ducks with 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, says she and the guards should take some of the blame for Hebard’s quiet second half. The only Ducks to score were the starting five.
Now the Ducks have to respond ahead of a trip to play Washington and Washington State.
“We’ll shake it off,” Graves said. “We lost to Oregon State a few weeks ago and turned right around and played one of the best games we played all year two days later. … We’ve shown the ability to bounce back.”
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow
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