The Oregon Ducks flew to Paradise Island in the Bahamas with a 2-0 record and a test ahead of them to see how they could face some of the best teams in the country. Missing some key parts including Te Hina Paopao and Endyia Rogersthe Ducks would be shorthanded in their quest to win three games in three days.
Saturday: 98-93 victory against Oklahoma
In the tournament opener for the Ducks, they went back and forth with the Oklahoma Sooners early and often. Every time the Sooners opened up a two- or three-possession lead, the Ducks would make a few plays on both sides to take the lead. But the Sooners’ deep shot (7 of 17) in the first half gave them a 44-35 halftime lead.
The third quarter saw Nyara Sabally and Sydney Parrish to resume. The duo scored 21 of Oregon’s 25 points in the third quarter, knocking down eight of 12 field goal attempts. Parrish hit three 3-pointers in the period to keep the Ducks afloat, but the Sooners went on a 13-2 streak to take a 11-point and seven-led lead entering the fourth.
Oklahoma kept its foot on the gas early in the fourth with three triples in the first three minutes of the quarter, forcing Oregon to call a 10 timeout with 7:10 remaining.
The Ducks responded after timeout with a 10-0 run to tie the game. Oregon and Oklahoma responded with a few clutch buckets on the stretch, including Chanaya Pintothat broke out in the fourth quarter with and-a jumper and three pointers.
In the final minutes, Sabally and Ahlise Hurst hitting shots to give the Ducks a two-point lead, and it was a free throw battle the rest of the way with the Ducks nailing 17 of their 19 free throw attempts in the quarter, including 10 of 12 in the final minute for seal the return victory.
Sabally finished with a career-high 30 points, including 20 in the second half, to go along with 11 boards, four assists and three blocks. Parrish had 18 points, Hurst had a dozen and Prince of Sedona had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Sunday: 80-63 Loss against No. 1 South Carolina
The Ducks then faced the top-ranked Gamecocks as they took on Buffalo on Saturday to advance. Dawn Staley’s team had been through their competition, toppling No. 5 NC State on the road to start the season and blowing their next three opponents by an average margin of 30 points.
Oregon was further shorthanded going into this game as Sabally was unavailable due to injury. Kylee Watson started instead.
South Carolina looked like the top-seeded team early on, shooting 56% from the field en route to a 27-14 lead after the first quarter. The Ducks also shot 50%, but their seven turnovers prevented them from sustaining an effective shot.
The Gamecocks used an 8-0 run late in the second quarter to take a 44-26 halftime lead, with Oregon scoring 12 field goals and committing 11 turnovers in the first half. Unfortunately for Oregon, the halftime break didn’t result in a furious comeback like Saturday’s game, as the Gamecocks used another 11-2 run to open the game.
The Ducks outscored South Carolina 32-21 in the final quarter and a half, but it was too little too late as the Gamecocks won 80-63. South Carolina was ruled by the Big Three of Zia Cooke (20 points, 6-9 FG), Aliyah Boston (16 points, 7-12 FG), and Laeticia Amihere (18 points, 6-10 FG) while Oregon had four double-digit scorers, including Phillipina Kyei and Chanaya Pinto with a dozen each.
Monday: 71-62 loss to No. 23 South Florida
Playing for the third straight day, the Ducks were still without Sabally as they prepared for a South Florida team that played tough against No. 2 UConn on Sunday.
The Ducks took an early lead on hot shooting from the outside, splattering all four of their three-point attempts in the first period, including three from Hurst. But again, the turnovers were a killer for Oregon. 20 turnovers plagued the Ducks on Sunday and it continued Monday with 14 turnovers in the first half.
The Bulls took control early in the second quarter with an 11-1 run and held a 29-27 halftime lead. Another offensive push gave USF a 10-point lead in the third, and the Ducks’ six third-quarter giveaways kept them trailing throughout the third.
South Florida took its biggest lead in the fourth quarter when the Bulls scored 10 straight to make it a 17-point lead with 5:10 left in the game.
But the Ducks weren’t giving up. They roared with a 14-1 run, capped off by a Sedona Prince and a throw-in layup. Once again, the Ducks found themselves playing the foul game in an attempt to stop the clock and force USF to beat them from the free throw line. Unfortunately for them, the Bulls made all 12 shots on the charity strip in the last minute, and two last-minute turnovers proved fatal.
Oregon turned the ball over 25 times against South Florida and averaged 20.3 turnovers per game during the three-game tournament. But playing against three very good teams, including the best team in the country in South Carolina, will prove to be a beneficial experience for Kelly Graves’ team as they head to the Pac-12.
The Ducks return home to Matthew Knight Arena on December 1 to face UC Davis at 3:30 p.m.
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