EUGENE, Ore. – Thursday’s first round game of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament was a game of runs, and the Oregon women’s basketball team did just that at Matthew Knight Arena.
The Ducks used a 22-0 run in the first half and then used a 31-8 run in the second half to cruise past Pacific, 90-63, and advance to the second round of the WNIT.
Oregon will meet either Washington or Hawai'i in the second round, with the site and date of the game to be determined on Friday, after the Huskies and Rainbows meet in Seattle.
The Ducks improved to 14-3 all-time at the WNIT and 3-1 under head coach Paul Westhead.
Ariel Thomas and Katelyn Loper paced Oregon with 20 points each while freshman standout Chrishae Rowe scored 16 points. Lexi Petersen and Jillian Alleyne each chipped in with 14 points. The five players combined for 84 of Oregon’s 90 points.
Alleyne also recorded her 28th double-double of the season after the sophomore pulled down a game-high 18 rebounds. Her 28 double-doubles tied Chiney Ogwumike's Pac-12 record, set last year. Alleyne now has 494 rebounds and she has a chance to be just the eighth player in NCAA history reach 500 rebounds in a single-season. The NCAA record is 539, set by Oklahoma's Courtney Paris in 2005-06.
While the offense shined as usual, it was the Ducks' defensive effort that helped them to an easy win.
Oregon held Pacific to 27.6 percent shooting in the game, the lowest of any opponent this season. The Tigers' 63 points was the second fewest allowed by the Ducks this year.
“The heart,” Thomas said, when asked about where the teams' defensive effort came from. “We’ve just been pounding it in practice, and its better late than never. We’ve struggled, but I think that was our best defensive game of the year.”
"Ultimately, when you play in the post-season, you have to show up and play the game," Westhead said. "Everybody shows up saying they want to win. Words are easy, but actions are more difficult."
UO led by as many as 35 points on the night, when Alleyne’s layup made it 84-49 with 4:20 remaining in the game.
After going down 6-3 on a Hailie Eackles bucket, the Ducks jolted out to a 22-0 run that spanned six minutes before the Tigers scored on a free throw at the 8:42 mark to make it 25-7.
Pacific cut the lead to 10 points - 27-17 - but another small run and a 3-pointer by Rowe with 59 seconds remaining in the half gave Oregon a 38-22 lead heading into the break.
"I thought we were sparring back-and-forth, but then Chrishae came in," Westhead said. "She can be electrifying."
Oregon shot an impressive 44.7 percent from the field on 34-of-76 shooting compared to Pacific’s 27.6 shooting percentage. The Ducks also dominated the Tigers on the boards with a 65-38 edge on the glass.
Pacific was led by Kendall Kenyon, who had 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the floor, and went 6-of-7 from the free throw line. KiKi Moore, Pacific’s leading scorer heading into Thursday's showdown at 16.5 points per game, was held to 13 points on 5-of-23 shooting and 1-of-9 from downtown.
“Our coaches did a really good job on the scouting report,” Alleyne said. “They pretty much told us everything (Moore) did and we countered it.”
“It’s our last go around with our seniors and our coaches,” Alleyne said. “I think that’s our biggest motivation, giving our all for them. The seniors have given us the past four years, the coaches have given us their time here, and we just want to give our all for them. That’s the reason we’re going so hard and being so competitive and passionate about it.”
Postgame Notes: Pacific scored 63 points in the game, the second fewest by an Oregon opponent this season…The low is 61 points by Cal State Northridge…Pacific’s 27.6 field goal percentage is the lowest by any Oregon opponent this year…The Ducks put together a 22-0 run in the first half, starting with the Tigers up 6-3 at 15:50 and ending with Oregon leading 25-6 with 8:42 left before halftime… The Ducks also had a 20-2 run in the second half… Oregon led by 16 points at halftime, 38-22, but the Ducks’ halftime scoring output was actually their ninth lowest of the season…Jillian Alleyne posted her 28th double-double of the season with 14 points and 18 rebounds…Katelyn Loper missed her first 10 three-point attempts before making four straight…Oregon was without point guard Drea Toler, who injured her ankle in shoot around.