The final regular season game of the 2013 campaign ended similarly to how it began for the University of Oregon’s women’s basketball team; with a sloppy loss and a look of bewilderment and frustration from head coach Paul Westhead.
Westhead was noticeably flustered on the sideline as his team fell 70-52 to the Utah Utes on Sunday afternoon at Matthew Knight Arena. Jillian Alleyne paced the Ducks with 13 points and 8 rebounds, however, it was no match for Utah and Taryn Wicijowski and her 18-point and 9 rebound effort.
The Ducks came out of the locker room looking sloppy, turning the ball over and giving away easy points to the Utes. Utah was able to capitalize on these mistakes and jumped out to an 11-4 lead early and forced Westhead to call an early timeout to simmer his squad down.
Following the stoppage, the Utes were still able to maintain their advantage over Oregon, even with the Alleyne remaining active on both ends of the court.
However, the freshman couldn’t shoulder the load for the entire squad and halfway through the first, the Ducks still found themselves trailing by nine.
As the half progressed, it was more of the same for the Ducks; lackluster defense and the inability to score on Utah, and as a result they were unable to chip into the deficit.
Oregon also had no answer for the Utah three-point shot in the first half, with the Utes shooting 50% as they went 6-12, with the Ducks unable to hit even one from three-point land.
Michelle Plouffe scored three of her 13 points when she drew a foul on Devyn Galland and hit the free throw to extend the Utah lead to 30-18 with 5:36 left in the first.
The closing minutes of the half showed no real change for Westhead’s team and as the first half drew to a close, the Ducks found themselves trailing 41-25.
Turning point. The Utes came out of the locker room on fire and opened the second half with a 7-0 run fueled predominantly by Plouffe and increased their lead to 48-25, a lead that the Ducks would simply be unable to surmount.
As the second half continued, Oregon could not chip into the Utah lead with poor shot selection and undisciplined defense, and with 10:21 left saw themselves looking at a 23 point deficit, 61-38.
Freshman, Devyn Galland provided Westhead a spark off the bench, chipping in with eight points and playing ferocious defense in her 20 minutes on the hardwood, but in the end it was not enough to keep the game with the Utes close.
Utah continued to hit open shots, and as the clock hit triple zeros and Oregon fell 70-52, the Ducks looked somber and many had their heads low in silence as they suffered their 26th loss of the season.
On the horizon. The Ducks finish the regular season 4-26 and enter the Pac-12 tournament in Seattle losers of four straight.
Oregon will now likely meet the Washington Huskies on Thursday, and Alleyne believes that in order to be successful in the future it needs to start on the defensive end.
“We need to be more alert, be more attentive,” said Alleyne. “Forget offense, if we do the defense the offense will come and I don’t think we understand that yet as a team.”
Times for the games on Thursday are still not finalized but the games will be televised on ESPN2 and the Pac-12 Network.