Ducks women down South Dakota
The Oregon women's basketball team vowed that the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament would be a reset.
The Ducks certainly looked revitalized early in their 67-47 first-round win over South Dakota on Monday, March 22.
Oregon (14-8) started fast and was never seriously threatened in the second half of a
The No. 6-seeded Ducks will face No. 3-seed Georgia (21-6) on Wednesday in the second round of the tournament.
Oregon had lost five of six entering this tournament and is still without talented freshman point guard Te-Hina Paopao, but was focused from the start against the Summit League champion Coyotes.
Erin Boley got the Ducks' offense going early, scoring 10 of her game-high 22 points as Oregon forged a 25-8 lead over the first 10 minutes.
"Especially with the new team that we have, and not ending the season the way that we wanted to, it feels really special to be out here and to have this opportunity to play in the tournament with this team," Boley said. "We're really excited to keep moving forward and I'm happy with how we played tonight."
Oregon never gave South Dakota (19-6) hope. The Ducks made 10 of their first 13 shots and forced a flurry of early Coyote turnovers. Boley's hot hand keyed the Oregon offense. The senior made 4 of 5 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter.
A 19-0 first-half run by the Ducks pretty much decided the outcome.
Oregon's offense cooled in the second quarter, when the Ducks tallied only nine points. But South Dakota scored only one point in the period — on a free throw with 4.5 seconds left in the half. The Coyotes were 0 for 21 from the floor in the second quarter and missed their last 25 shots in a row heading into halftime. The nine points were the second fewest in one half in a NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.
"I think we put together as good of a half of defense as I've ever been a part of as a coach," Oregon coach Kelly Graves said.
South Dakota went almost 15 minutes between baskets, a drought ended by a 3-pointer from Liv Korngable on the Coyotes' first possession of the third quarter.
Graves went with 6-7 Sedona Prince and 6-4 Nyara Sabally in the starting lineup, and their size and the Ducks' active defense gave the Coyotes fits.
In Paopao's absence, freshman Maddie Scherr made her first start at point guard in college basketball. She had two points, five rebounds, two assists and four turnovers and was praised by Graves for her performance in a high-pressure game against an aggressive South Dakota defense.
Though Oregon led 34-9 at halftime, it wasn't a perfect performance. South Dakota had 13 offensive rebounds, in part because of all the difficult shots the Coyotes took and the Ducks, still missing Paopao, had 11 turnovers.
Sabally scored 13 of her 17 points in the second half and Prince finished with 12 points and seven rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
"We can rebound better, we can take care of the ball better," Graves said. "But other than those two areas, I thought we were on point the whole night."
• The Pac-12 went 5-1 in the first round of the tournament, with Oregon State, Oregon, Stanford, Arizona and UCLA reaching the second round. Only Washington State lost — by four points on Sunday to South Florida.
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