Williams was 4/4, but she should have shot it 40 times rather than 4. As it was, we "lost" every quarter of this game, as our offense labored against the zone. Our defense controlled Hebard, but Ionescu had a career high 36 points, and Oregon shot 46% of its threes and bombed us into submission. It felt like Ionescu wanted to make a statement that she could "go off" just like McPhee did to them. By the fourth quarter we seemed to have a good handle on the Oregon zone and were regularly getting the ball inside to Smith for short jumpers, but we needed to have been doing that since the middle of the first quarter. Too little, too late, and too little defense on Ionescu.
Flow of the Game:
We got the tip and immediately got off to a hot offensive start, with Kiana draining a trey and a floater, and Britt and Alanna getting layups and short jumpers. But Oregon also shot well, and at the first break the score was Stanford 15 Oregon 11. But then the Oregon zone began to take root and our perimeter shooting stalled, and other than two free throws we did not sink another basket in the quarter. Oregon chipped away and Ionescu was almost the whole Oregon offense, and Oregon led after one quarter 18-17.
The second quarter started badly, with Ionescu draining a trey from very deep and then hitting a layup by curling to the basket. After a four minute stall in our offense Carrington stole the ball and laid it in to reverse the momentum. A Brittany floater helped, but our offense labored against the zone. Each basket was hard for us, and easy for them. A Bando bomb put Oregon ahead 26-21 at the break. After the break, Carrington made a trey and that was all our scoring for the half--only 7 points in the second quarter. Or to put it another way, we scored 15 points in the first five minutes and 6 in the next 15, showed a strong defensive effort and a weak offensive one. The half ended Oregon 31 Stanford 24.
By halftime, we had only 2 treys on 10 tries. Williams started brilliantly and then disappeared. Also hurting our cause in the first half were 10 turnovers--5 by Alanna. We were out rebounded 17-11. McPhee missed three treys and then became gun shy about shooting more, and Oregon sagged off of her. Holding an offensive team like Oregon to 31 points for a half was a success, but allowing a mediocre defensive team like Oregon to hold us to 24 for a half was embarrassing.
The third quarter also started badly, with Sabally getting hot and hitting a couple of treys--one as the shot clock was expiring after we had made a good defensive stand--but enabled her by giving up an offensive rebound. It was deflating. Williams finally reappeared and hit her own trey, but by the break we were down 43-33. After the break we played Oregon almost even. Tara put in Dodson and we played with three bigs in a kind of zone--Johnson, Smith, and Dodson. It was an interesting decision and Dodson converted 2 baskets and a free throw. While the turnover hemorrhaging stopped, and rebounding was more even, it was not enough and the quarter ended Oregon 54-43.
The fourth quarter saw our hopes ebb away, especially after Oregon made several ridiculous baskets, including improbable treys by Cazorla and Ionescu. Tara called a time out when we were down 66-47 with six minutes left. After the timeout we seemed to solve the Oregon zone, repeatedly getting the ball to Smith at the elbow or in the paint for short jumpers. But as often as we succeeded, Oregon succeeded in getting the ball to its pinpoint shooters. Whatever possibility we had to close the gap evaporated as Oregon closed out the quarter by hitting 5 out of 6 treys in the fourth quarter. The game ended Oregon 77 Stanford 57.
As a team, we shot 49%--one of our best shooting nights in weeks, but we allowed Oregon to shoot 50%, including an astonishing 46% of their threes. Our defense simply was not up to the task. We cut way back on turnovers in the second half, but overall Oregon still had the edge in turnovers and rebounding--although not by a lot. Finally, this was a bad night to go cold from three point range, and other than Williams, we were 1/11.
In some ways Smith had a good game, scoring 17 on 8/17 shooting. She had 7 turnovers, though, which I thought was partly because the refs were allowing extremely physical play. How much skin can a defender touch when grabbing for the ball? Apparently as much as she wants.
McPhee did better than the first two games of the tournament, scoring 12 on 5/12 shooting, and also with 3 assists. It was not, however, another 33 point game, and sadly that is what we needed from her.
Williams was wonderful when she shot the ball--a perfect 4/4. But there were very long stretches in the game when she did not take a shot. She played point for extended minutes as Tara pulled Marta out, and had 4 assists to 2 turnovers.
Johnson showed more touch on the ball that I remember for a while, scoring 7 on 3/6 shooting, but grabbing only 4 rebounds.
Sniezek was 0/3 with 4 assists and 1 turnover. Tara pulled her and used other combinations of players for long stretches. She played just 19 minutes.
Carrington scored 5 points, an assist, a steal, and 3 rebounds.
Dodson got more time than I remember in a big game--17 minutes--and she seemed to calm down and show more touch, scoring on a couple of putbacks and snagging 4 rebounds.
It was interesting to see the two Sniezek-less lineups that Tara used when we fell behind: 1) Williams 2) McPhee 3) Smith 4) Johnson 5) Dodson and 1) Williams 2) Carrington 3) McPhee 4) Smith 5) Dodson. I am not sure why she was more eager to pull Sniezek in this game than in others. We even tried a 2-3 zone for a bit with 3 long players in the back of the zone. None of it worked defensively, although it was good to see Smith attacking and beating the Oregon zone regularly by the end of the game.
Now we wait to hear our fate, which almost certainly will be a four seed. While this game was a disappointment in many ways, nearly all of us would have taken this position gladly back in the middle of December. Hopefully we will be able to enjoy a couple of good games in Maples to send Britt and Kaylee off to the cheers of a roaring home crowd.