Duck women surge late to beat Princeton

Duck women surge late to beat Princeton
Oregon's Ariel Thomas (#22) comes down with a rebound during the Duck Women Basketball's 110-90 win over Princeton on Sunday afternoon. Thomas had six rebounds. Alan Sylvestre, Oregon News Lab

EUGENE, Ore. -- With the exception of a brief period with just under six minutes remaining in the first period, the Ducks were behind Princeton during the first half of the game Sunday afternoon in Matt Knight Arena.

Princeton made a 12-point run in the final minutes, going into the locker room ahead of the Ducks 55-46.  In the second half, there was 13:22 left on the clock when the Ducks finally pulled even with Princeton, 70-70. Three minutes later the Ducks were up 74-73. The Ducks then made a 25 point to 5 point run, ending the game with a convincing victory over Princeton, 110-90.

According to Head Coach Paul Westhead, “Sometimes the mark of an improving team is how they can regroup in the second half.” If that is true, the Duck Women’s Basketball Team is doing just fine.  Princeton outscored the Ducks 55-46 in the first period, but the Ducks outscored Princeton 64-35 in the second.

Westhead was clearly pleased with the performance of his team. “I couldn’t be happier,” he said.

Although admitting none of his four or five defenses worked well in the first period, Westhead said he was confident at the half.  “I told our players at halftime ‘I’m going to be nice and calm and easy with you right now. I think we’re all going to have to be in this together.’ They certainly turned the game around.”

“We changed the defense to a zone,” Westhead said. “Offensively we started kicking the ball and players were getting open looks and making them.”

Westhead singled out Jillian Alleyne for praise, who ended the game with 27 points. “When in doubt, kick it to her, and let her go to work. She’s more durable this year, she’s more confident this year in the low post. She’s just so confident and so relaxed.”

Alleyne said they shifted into high gear in the second half. “It was kind of we had to wake up. We were down by nine at the half so we had to pick it up. We just went after it. It was one of the best team games we’ve had. Everyone was knocking down shots, we were passing the ball. We were on it.”

Katelyn Loper, who ended up with 24 points, going 6-13 on three-pointers, said the team is different this year, as the season record so far, 4-2, shows. “That wouldn’t have been a game we would have won last year,” Loper said, “because we didn’t have what we needed. But because we won that shows our team is growing and getting better every game.”

The team, for the most part, is healthy, and that makes all the difference between last year and this year. “I think [Princeton] tired,” Westhead said. “Our goal is to tire you. And also we would like to win. But we want to tire you. And I know the way this team is going to win is if they get into the habit of tiring the opposition. Most of the time you are going to win because of that.”

The Ducks travel to play Seattle University on December 4; the game begins at 6 pm.