Ducks Bounce Back Friday

EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon’s big three of Chance Gray, Phillipina Kyei and Grace VanSlooten helped the Ducks get back in the win column Friday night, as UO claimed a 59-51 bounceback win over Idaho at Matthew Knight Arena.

Gray led all scorers with 20 points while Kyei (16 points, 17 rebounds) and VanSlooten (17 points, 10 rebounds) each finished with double-doubles. Kyei turned in her team-leading sixth double-double of the season and VanSlooten upped her season total to four. The trio accounted for 53 of the Ducks’ 59 points in the game to help UO snap its two-game skid.

“We relied tonight on really our big three,” head coach Kelly Graves said after the game. “They all had nice, solid games. But we’ve got to have more contributors, and I was hoping tonight we could get those guys some rest time, but we weren’t able to. Give Idaho credit, they were tough. They were game and they played well.”

Kyei equaled her career-high point total while her 17 rebounds were a season high, as she moved into a 14th-place tie in UO history with her 14th career double-double. Thirteen of Gray’s 20 points came in the second half. With the Ducks leading by four headed into the final quarter, Gray went 8-for-8 from the free throw line over the game’s final 3:30 to stave off the Vandals.

“Just trying to play aggressive, try to get downhill and get to the line,” Gray said of her fourth-quarter mindset. “Just trying to get up and put the game away.”

How It Happened: Oregon opened the game making four of its first five shot attempts, but four offensive rebounds from Idaho kept things close as the teams were tied at eight apiece when the game reached first media timeout. Thanks to 7-of-11 shooting and five points from both Kyei and VanSlooten, the home side was able to build a 16-12 advantage after the first 10 minutes. 

Shooting went cold for Oregon in the second quarter as the team shot just 38.5 percent from the field and was 0-for-4 from deep. The Ducks’ 3-2 zone defense continued to be stingy, limiting Idaho shooters to just 3-for-12 from the field while forcing five turnovers that turned into five points on the other end. Gray turned things on in the second quarter with her quickness and ability to control the tempo, scoring five points as VanSlooten maintained her steady pace by dropping four to help the Ducks build a 29-21 lead at the break. 

The Ducks struggled out of the locker room, beginning the third 2-of-8 from the field. UO transitioned back to man-to-man defense, to which Idaho responded by utilizing its quickness to attack Oregon’s size. Aggressive play from the Vandals’ Kennedy Johnson resulted in seven points from her to help cut the lead to two points, forcing a UO timeout with 4:22 remaining in the period. 

Oregon countered by going inside early and often with Kyei, who scored seven of her 16 points in the period. A big transition three from Gray and a block on the defensive end by Kyei as the clock expired gave the Ducks a 43-39 lead heading into the final 10 minutes. 

A 3-pointer from Idaho’s Hope Butera opened the fourth-quarter scoring and brought the lead down to a point, but Oregon responded with a 10-4 run, thanks to six points from VanSlooten and great perimeter defense that put the Ducks back in control, 53-46, with just over three minutes to play. Gray took over the show from there, sinking eight straight free throws in the final 3:30 to solidify Oregon’s lead and deliver the team its fifth win of the season. 

Notable: Kyei matched her career high with 16 points and finished with her sixth double-double of the season and now has 14 for her career, moving her into a 14th-place tie in UO history … VanSlooten logged her fourth double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 boards … Gray’s game-high 20 points matched her season-high output and marked her fourth career game with 20 or more … Idaho shot one free throw to Oregon’s 26 … Gray, Kyei and VanSlooten accounted for 53 of the Ducks’ 59 points … Sophomore Kennedy Basham made her first career start.

Up Next: The Ducks’ homestand continues Saturday at Matthew Knight Arena against Portland State (2 p.m. PT).