By Cole Rothman
Tonight the Oregon Ducks faced off against the 1 and 0 Boise State Broncos. The Ducks pulled out the win in dominant fashion, much to the delight of the somewhat lackluster Saturday night crowd in Matthew Knight Arena. Matthew Knight Arena was packed to the walls for a basketball game, but it was the women who drew the large crowd tonight as they upset Team USA 93 to 86, handing the women in red, white and blue their first lost since 1999. Once the crowd thinned out and the men’s game began, it was clear that the Boise State Broncos were outgunned by the talented Ducks. Boise State brought experience to the table, returning their top 4 scorers from a season ago. However, that was about all the Broncos brought to the table. Sparked by the hot shooting hand of Anthony Mathis and the seasoned command of Payton Pritchard, the Ducks cruised to a 48-30 lead at the half.
The start of the second half brought more of the same for the Ducks and the Broncos. With only 5 minutes gone in the second half, the Ducks had already stretched their lead to 29. Fueled by hot shooting and swarming defense, Oregon pulled away and never looked back. Anthony Mathis led all scorers and set a new career high with 30 points on 9-11 from 3, and Payton Pritchard handed out 7 dimes. Even without their 2 centers Francis Okoro (car accident injury) and N’Faly Dante (Eligibility) the Ducks were in command from the opening tip to the final whistle. Top recruit N’Faly Dante is still unavailable for 8 more games, but should the absence of sophomore big-man Francis Okoro persist, the Ducks could find themselves at a severe rebounding disadvantage against bigger and longer teams. The Ducks are going to need all hands on deck this Tuesday as they play a vertically gifted and very talented Memphis Tigers squad. That game tips off the first game of the Phil Knight Invitational and begins at 6 p.m. at the Moda Center in downtown Portland.
Dana Altman Post Game Interview
Players: Anthony Mathis and Shakur Juiston Post Game Interviews
11,530 fans at Matthew Knight Arena erupted several times in Saturday nights exhibition but none louder than the cheers at the final horn legitimizing the Ducks 93-86 win over Team USA. Oregon did something no college has done in two decades, taking down Team USA. In the first half Team USA often flirted with taking the game out of reach for the Ducks with their largest lead being 11, but Oregon’s late first-half push was enough to bring them within four at the half, only down 42-38.
Kelly Graves called the notion of beating Team USA “delusional” less than a week ago but the Ducks three stars made the improbable victory possible in the second-half. Star senior guard Sabrina Ionesco had just five points in the opening half but in the closing 20 minutes, she was white-hot, finishing with 30 points on 8-13 shooting, including a three-pointer from the logo as time was expiring on the shot clock. Satou Sabally hit a trio of impressive threes, two of which came deep into the fourth quarter, the German international finished with 25 on the night. Lastly, Ruthy Hebard, who at times put the team on her back and was the main reason the Ducks won the rebounding battle 34-29. Hebard didn’t have an easy task in facing the 2017 WNBA MVP Sylvia Fowles but she came on top with 18 points, most of which came from a deadly pick-and-roll with Ionescu, and 11 boards. Oregon had a one-point lead going into the forth and proceeded that by going on a 9-0 run in the last quarter to eventually pull away with one of the most historic wins in women’s basketball history. While Kelly Graves and the company couldn’t have asked for a better way to open a campaign, the head coach stressed his team is simply 0-0 and the Ducks must move forward.
After the monumental win, the Ducks have a quick turnaround, facing off against Northeastern at Matthew Knight Arena, Monday at 3 pm.
Game Story (By: Mark Wang)
Game Story: Ruthy Hebard Excels in One of the Toughest Match-Ups of her Career (By: Adam Susman)
Head Coach Kelly Graves
Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard, and Satou Sabally
USA Head Coach Cheryl Reeve and Sue Bird