After leading the entire game, Oregon came away with their second win of the season against Samford, defeating them 72-61. The Ducks were in control for most of the game, and despite the Bulldogs making runs of their own, the Ducks kept their cool and went on to win.
From the get-go, Oregon came out ready to play. With an early 11-0 lead, they definitely had their best start thus far, and it really set the tone for the rest of the game.
As the game went along, both teams continued to battle each other from the three-point line — showing no real signs of interior play at all. After Oregon led 20-11 with just under 13 minuets to go in the first half, Samford made their first real move with an 8-0 run to bring the game to 20-19. This run kept the game close for most of the first half, but the Ducks managed to go on a 7-0 run of their own as they extended their lead to 10 at the half to bring a score of 37-27.
In the second half, Samford came out hot, as they went on a 10-0 run to tie the game at 37 apiece. Oregon was struggling to get anything going on the offensive end and found themselves in a sudden dog fight heading into a long stretch of rough shooting from both teams. Although the Bulldogs continued to keep it relatively close for the majority of the second half — even coming back to within five points with three minutes to go — the Ducks ended up pulling away as the Bulldogs failed to capitalize on open threes.
Leading the way for the Ducks tonight were Danielle Love and Ariel Thomas who combined for 32 points. Love finished with a team-high 17 points and six rebounds, and Thomas finished with 15 points and five rebounds. Samford simply couldn’t stop these two from the perimeter all game, and when the Ducks hit their offensive slumps, Love and Thomas were there to get them out.
Love had a very efficient shooting night, as she finished on 5-9 shooting from the field. This was the third time this year she led the team in scoring, and nobody was happier than Oregon head coach Paul Westhead, who saw one his better players perform at a high level in an important non-conference game.
“I was pleased with the play of Danielle Love; she really helped us offensively,” Westhead said after the win. “She’s maturing into a consistent offensive player for us and we need that. (She) has been able to get that ball and penetrate and do things that she was not doing the last two seasons. It’s interesting — she is one of the three or four players who has been moved from one position to another, and the new position has helped her.
“Ariel Thomas,” he continued, “even though she missed a lot of shots in the first half, is a gutsy kid. Sometimes you have to play tough, and her presence has helped us.”
Jillian Alleyne had another productive night as well. She did not post jaw-dropping offensive numbers as she did against Fresno State, but she did post her fourth double-double of the year, finishing with a team high 19 rebounds and 11 points. She has continued to be the glue for this Oregon team, and as they inch closer to conference play, she will definitely be looked at for her presence down in the post.
For Samford, it was a day that was lived and eventually died by the three. By the end of the fist half, the Bulldogs had put up 20 threes and had capitalized on only seven of them. With a size disadvantage down low, the team really had no other choice but to beat the Ducks from the outside, and it simply did not work down the stretch.
“That team wasn’t bad,” Westhead said. “I didn’t know an awful lot about them; they came a long way, but they were a very sound basic team. They blocked out and never made mistakes; they made us earn this win.”
Turning point: With a slim 30-27 lead late in the first half, the Ducks could have easily allowed the Bulldogs to take control of the game. But Oregon wasn’t ready to give up another loss at home as they went on a 7-0 run to close the half. This really gave the Ducks some confidence heading into the second half, and without that lead, there’s no telling what the outcome of this game would have been.
On the horizon: The Ducks now take a quick break before heading to Portland on Dec. 21 to face off against the Pilots in what should be one of the better non-conference matchups of the season. Tip off is set for 12 p.m.