The Oregon women’s basketball team had a 46-34 lead at halftime over rival Washington and was out-shooting the Huskies by nearly 10 percent. The second half completely flipped, and the Huskies (19-13) ended Oregon’s season with a 93-85 win in the second round of the WNIT. It was also the last game for Paul Westhead as Oregon’s head coach.
“Our kids played very hard,” Westhead said. “I think we were competitive, but at the end of the day you have to make some (shots).”
The Ducks shot 41.9 percent in the first half but just 29.3 percent in the second. They also made just 2-of-15 threes, while Washington shot 50.0 percent after halftime (up from 32.4 percent in the first half).
The defense wasn’t as active in the second half, but Westhead said Washington has good players that were going to make shots regardless of the opposing defense. The inability for his team to retaliate cost it a chance to play San Diego on Wednesday, he said.
“We don’t need to shoot 60 percent to win,” Westhead said, “but you can’t shoot 20.”
The second half swing looked especially odd considering how good the Ducks looked in the first. In nearly every area, the Ducks had the advantage. The Huskies didn’t even gain a lead until seven minutes into the second half.
“They cut us up on the high-low pretty bad and we didn’t adjust quick enough,” senior guard Ariel Thomas said in her last game as a Duck. “I think it was around 10-11 minute mark (of the second half), it kinda slipped away from us.”
Thomas was one of the brightest spots for the Ducks, finishing with a team-high 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting and 6-of-6 at the free throw line.
Jillian Alleyne recorded her 29th double-double on the season, breaking the Pac-12 record previously set by Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike. Alleyne scored 17 points on 5-of-15 shooting and grabbed 25 rebounds. The sophomore forward finished the season with 519 rebounds, becoming the fifth player in NCAA history to record 500 or more boards.
“If I could put this season in one word, I would absolutely say, ‘unbelievable,’” Alleyne said.
Freshman guard Chrishae Rowe came off the bench blazing, hitting two of her first three shots (all threes). But she could hardly find the bottom of the net after that, going 4-of-16 on field goals and 0-of-8 on threes. She needed 20 points to tie the Oregon single-season scoring record (693) but finished with 17.
One late play just about summed up Rowe’s night. With under a minute left, down 84-78, Rowe made a nice move and had a short open look at a jumper. She banked it but the ball somehow rimmed out and Washington grabbed the rebound. Rowe yelled in frustration.
Starters Katelyn Loper (5-of-16 from the field, 3-of-12 from three) and Danielle Love (0-of-8 from the field, 0-of-7 from three) also struggled mightily to score.
Kelsey Plum broke Washington’s single-season scoring record of 661 with a game-high 31 points (she had 670 this season). Plum, the sister of Oregon volleyball setter Lauren, made 6-of-13 field goals, 5-of-8 three-pointers and 14-of-16 free throws. Talia Walton and Jazmine Davis added 24 and 22 points, respectively.
Despite the disappointing loss, Westhead, Alleyne and Thomas all sounded fairly happy with how their season went and where they’re headed. Last year, those three suffered through a 4-27 season. 16-16 might not be the record they hoped for, but they said it was a big step forward. Westhead believes the program will be in good hands, even though he will be gone.
“I feel badly for our seniors,” Westhead said. “They played their hearts out, but there’s a good group of kids still here and moving forward, I think they’ll be fine.”
Follow Victor Flores on Twitter @vflores415