by Rob Moseley
On the court, basketball is a game of runs, and the season has been too for Oregon's women.
The Ducks lost six straight to open Pac-12 play, then won four of five before reversing course on their current five-game losing streak. With a winning record on the line, the UO women would like nothing more than to turn it around again entering the postseason, by getting on track in the final regular-season weekend of the year.
The Ducks (13-14, 4-12 Pac-12) host Arizona State on Friday in Matthew Knight Arena at 7 p.m., then close out the regular season Sunday against Arizona (1 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). The Pac-12 tournament begins next Thursday in Seattle.
"I think they see this weekend as an important homestand," UO coach Paul Westhead said. "They're very conscious that they'd like to turn it around and win some games.
"And then, after this weekend, players will begin to reflect on their postseason aspirations — Pac-12 tournament and things like that. But I don't think that's a big issue right now. The issue is Arizona State."
The Ducks pushed the Sun Devils to the brink on the road earlier this month, losing 97-94. Arizona State's grinding defensive style usually has won the war of wills with Westhead's uptempo team over the years, but the Sun Devils were persuaded to run that day.
Oregon would like to enforce its will this time around, too.
"ASU, they're a good defensive team," UO senior Ariel Thomas said. "But I think when we're running, it's hard to lock up in the halfcourt. When you're running, you create mismatch offense."
Thomas will be one of four seniors playing their final Pac-12 homestand for the Ducks. She, Danielle Love, Chynna Miley and Laura Stanulis will be honored prior to Sunday's tipoff against the Wildcats, their final appearance in Eugene barring a WNIT home game.
Love said the finality of this weekend occurred to her Monday, when she was shooting on Oregon's practice courts late on the Ducks' day off from practice.
"I'm excited to take the next step in my life, but these past four years have meant everything for me," Love said. "I'm not really ready to let them go, but I guess everything has to end some time."
Westhead called Thomas and Love, regular starters since their freshman season, "the guts of the team" during his five years as UO coach.
"It's gone by really fast," Thomas said. "It's crazy to think I was a freshman at one point, playing in Mac Court, and now I'm ready to be a senior playing on senior night. It's gone by quickly."
Against the Sun Devils, UO sophomore Jillian Alleyne will go for her 25th double-double of the season, which would give her the all-time single-season record at Oregon, breaking a tie with Bev Smith.
Alleyne also enters this weekend 43 rebounds shy of the Pac-12 single season record of 466, set last season by Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike; Alleyne was previously thought to have broken the record of 376 set by Ogwumike's sister, Nnemkadi, but the conference records had not been updated to reflect the fact a new record was set last season.
Alleyne will have at least three games — two this weekend and at least one in the Pac-12 tournament — in which to break the year-old mark. She would do so by reaching her season average of 15.7, which leads the nation.
That means there's also as few as three games left for this UO senior class to play as colleagians.
"We're really excited and really optimistic about this weekend," Love said. "We know we can do some good stuff, so we're looking to go into the Pac-12 tournament with two wins under our belt."