Eugene, OR -- There was absolutely no doubt that the Ducks came into this game with the mentality to conquer. With a good chance for a spot in the NCAA tournament, much on the line, and there was no room for error. Unfortunately, Oregon wasn't able to overcome UCLA, as they lost 77-72.
"That was a win that we needed to have, but it doesn't put us out yet. We still have other teams to play, and we still are making a run for the NCAA tournament," said Alleyne. "We just have to keep fighting."
Oregon's all-world superstar Jillian Alleyne was incredibly strong right off the bat, grabbing rebounds and snatching the ball from the Bruins. Her play early on galvanized her teammates on the other end, as the Ducks were able to take control of the ball offensively, scoring some threes by the Lexi's to put the Ducks at a seven-point lead.
Not only was their intensity reflected on their offense, but also their defense was just as fierce grabbing four steals in the quarter, while holding the Bruins to only 37% shooting as they stood tall at 57%.
Jordin Canada and Nirra Fields were undoubtedly alerted by this deficit, and really picked up the pace in the second quarter. The two top scorers combined for 14 of the team's 19 points, actually igniting the awakening of the Bruins offense. The team was getting much better looks, handling the ball much better as they focused on keeping the ball in control going to the basket and grabbing the offensive rebounds.
In contrast, it looked as though the Ducks put all of their eggs into one basket exploding in quarter one, and really falling flat in quarter two. Following Kat Cooper's three to kick off the quarter, things really started to slide downhill as the Ducks went 0-7 FG's and allowed four turnovers in four minutes.
Because of this, the Bruins were able to pick up their first lead since the first minute of the game, coming back from an eight-point deficit and put themselves ahead by four closing the quarter.
It was quite a whirlwind of a second half, to say the least. The Ducks took note of their flaws, regrouped at the half and came out forceful in quarter three. Oregon went on an impressive 10-0 run in the first two minutes of the second half as Lexi Petersen EXPLODED with two from downtown, proving that the Ducks are the best three-point team in the nation shooting 42% from the 3-point line.
The Bruins were down by eight until Fields crept in, collecting five as UCLA was able to close their deficit to one. However, the Bruins kept allowing foul after foul, taking the Ducks to the line to hold onto a lead.
This became the Ducks' only point investment as they started to fall into another dark slump -- they allowed another four turnovers in four minutes, going 1-6 with their shots.
"We re-established ourselves in that third quarter, and then we had some live ball turnovers," Oregon coach Kelly Graves stated. "We told our kids all week from Tuesday on...two keys in this game. Live ball turnovers, and offensive rebounds. And the two things that beat us tonight...were live ball turnovers, and offensive rebounds."
It was a nail-biting end as the teams went back and forth in the fourth as UCLA had a slight gain. With 1:30 left in the quarter and the Ducks down by four, Petersen made a huge 3-point play driving to the basket and drawing the foul. The crowd went wild as the play was followed up by an Alleyne three to tie the two teams with 52 seconds remaining.
With 45 seconds left Canada grabbed a layup, and with a gruesome foul on Cazorla, Fields took to the line to grab two more for the Bruins, putting them ahead at 4 points with 18 seconds remaining. Cazorla made an attempt at a jumper but missed as the Bruins took possession. Bando put up the ball for one final shot, but it wasn't enough to put the Ducks ahead as they fell to the UCLA Bruins in a brutal battle, 77-72.
"We've had seven losses now this year. This is our sixth one to a team in the top 10 in the RPI. It's encouraging that we can play with these teams; it's discouraging that we can't finish it," said Graves.
Though the odds were not in their favor, Alleyne and the team are able to maintain positivity in the wake of a loss, looking forward to what's ahead.
"We've competed with top ten teams, if not led them the whole game," said Alleyne. "so we're right where we need to be. Hopefully, we can get into a top 25 spot before the season's over."
Fields and Canada dominated the floor for UCLA with Fields collecting 23 points and 4 rebounds, followed by Canada with 20 points, 4 rebounds.
Alleyne impressed with another double-double for the Ducks with 25 points, 11 rebounds. Bando and Petersen both closed the night with 15 points, followed by Cooper with 11 points, 4 rebounds.