EUGENE, Ore. — In the toughest test yet this season for Oregon women's basketball, the Ducks passed with flying colors Tuesday, outclassing No. 24 Michigan State to the tune of an 88-55 victory before 2,056 in Matthew Knight Arena.
HIGHLIGHTS | Just a few of the many, many highlights from the Ducks' blowout win over No. 24 Michigan State. https://t.co/bGt113jXkP— Oregon WBB (@OregonWBB) November 23, 2016
How It Happened
The Ducks (4-0) never trailed after the opening minute, and broke the game open with a 16-0 run that began late in the first quarter and extended into the second. Oregon played tenacious defense, hounding the Spartans (4-1) into .317 shooting with 24 turnovers. The UO women shot .531 themselves, and finished with 23 assists on their 34 field goals.
Ruthy Hebard got the 16-0 run started with a three-point play for a 13-8 lead late in the first quarter. She capped the run early in the second with another basket for a 26-8 lead, and the Ducks led by double digits the rest of the way. The lead reached 41-18 just after halftime as Hebard scored after tic-tac-toe passing by Maite Cazorla and Jacinta Vandenberg. Two Jayde Woods free throws capped a 14-2 run later in the third quarter that made it 60-24.
Oregon eventually led by as much as 44, at 72-28 on a three-pointer by Cazorla early in the fourth quarter. The Spartans had a 29-23 advantage in the final period to close the gap a bit.
Who Stood Out
Hebard had 15 points and 10 rebounds, and nearly recorded a double-double in the third quarter with 10 points and eight boards. Cazorla dished out nine assists, scored seven points and grabbed three steals, and Vandenberg added seven rebounds.
What It Means
An Oregon program relying on seven freshmen that was expected to need some time to jell could be ahead of schedule. Michigan State is the type of big, physical team that populates the upper echelon of the Pac-12, and the Ducks more than held their own.
UO coach Kelly Graves
"That was a great win for this young team. I'm really proud of them. I think we were really excited to play. We were excited for the opportunity and the challenge. I think our kids were ready. They believe in themselves. I didn't anticipate the way it went, but I expected us to win."
"It's just one game, but hopefully it's a springboard to bigger and better things. … We played a complete game, there's no doubt about it."
Junior guard Lexi Bando
"The first thing (Graves) put up on the board was, whoever played the toughest was going to win the game. And I think that's what it came down to. Our defensive intensity tonight was tremendous. There were so many turnovers and steals, I think that's what got our momentum going."
Notable: Three of four field goals by 6-foot-5 freshman Mallory McGwire were jump shots from the elbow, a potent weapon for a post player. … After using all 14 available players by halftime in each of the first three games, Graves played 11 in the first half Tuesday. Mar'Shay Moore, Lydia Giomi and Oti Gildoneventually played in the fourth quarter. … Following the game, the Ducks bussed to Portland, where they were to spend the night before flying to Hawaii on Wednesday.
The Ducks kick off play in the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu on Friday against No. 7 Mississippi State.