EUGENE —Down by 17 late in the third quarter, the Oregon women’s basketball team stormed back to force overtime and then beat No. 7 Arizona on a last-second shot by Endyia Rogers for a 68-66 victory Saturday before 7,944 fans in Matthew Knight Arena.
The Ducks (9-5, 2-1 Pac-12) were playing their first game of the season with their full roster available, and they got contributions up and down the lineup. Te-Hina Paopao led Oregon with a career-high 24 points, Nyara Sabally had a 20-point night that included the basket to force overtime, and Sedona Prince returned from a two-game absence to jumpstart the Ducks’ comeback in the fourth quarter.
“I’m just really proud of the grit, the toughness,” UO coach Kelly Graves said. “We got it done, and that’s a huge win for us.
The comeback was Oregon’s biggest in a victory since March 2016, against Texas El-Paso.
“I think we showed some real character,” Graves said. “We have it in us and when we were tested, they came through.”
Down 54-37 late in the third quarter, the Ducks salvaged the final two scoring possessions of the period to enter the fourth trailing 54-41. It was a different game from that point on.
With Phillipina Kyei and Chanaya Pinto providing a spark on the defensive end, Prince went to work with two early buckets and Paopao hit a three-pointer to cap a 7-0 run that got Oregon within 54-48. After the Wildcats ended the run with a three, Prince hit two more jumpers and Sabally added a free throw, and it was 57-53.
Arizona’s Shaina Pellington hit a tough fadeaway jumper late in the shot clock for a 59-53 lead with 2:22 left, but the Wildcats didn’t score again in regulation. Paopao got to the basket and Prince followed with two second-chance points to make it a one-possession game, and Sabally tied it with 11 seconds left, between two clutch defensive stops.
“We came together and we focused on just getting one stop at a time, one bucket at a time, executing every play,” Prince said. “And that’s what we did.”
Sabally scored after the Ducks got another defensive stop to open overtime, and Oregon’s 61-59 lead was its first since the opening quarter. Arizona rallied to lead by one, but Paopao got to the rim again for a 64-63 lead and Rogers put the Ducks up three with two free throws.
Arizona’s ninth three-pointer of the day was by Bendu Yeaney with 16 seconds left in overtime, tying it 66-66. Coming out of a timeout, Rogers inbounded from in front of the UO bench to Prince, got the ball back and drove the baseline. From there Rogers kicked to Sydney Parrish, and though her three-pointer was off, Prince tipped the ball to Rogers and the junior guard — who was 1-of-10 shooting on the day until that point — made a short baseline jumper with less than a second left.
“I didn’t lose any confidence or anything,” Rogers said. “Today wasn’t my day. But I made a big shot to win the game.”
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As a team the Ducks were off the mark offensively early Saturday, missing their first six shots. They trailed 17-15 after the first quarter and 38-27 at halftime, and had just two assists on seven made field goals through two quarters. Arizona led 54-41 after the third quarter, at which point the Ducks were 11-of-35 shooting and 1-of-8 from three-point range; that the Ducks managed to go a perfect 18-of-18 from the free-throw line in the first three quarters played a huge part in keeping them within reach of a comeback bid.
“We didn’t want to lose the game,” Rogers said. “And we showed that.”
Paopao overcame an illness that bothered her throughout the game to go 8-of-14 shooting on her way to 24 points, and Sabally added 20 points with 13 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. Prince finished with 16 points, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Not to be overlooked was the energy of Pinto, who went scoreless in 17 minutes off the bench but with whom the Ducks were plus-15 on the scoreboard when she was on the court — nearly all of the fourth quarter and overtime.
“We put it all together — we executed offensively, and then I thought the game was won at the defensive end — and she was a huge part of that,” Graves said.
What It Means: Having battled through injuries and other absences all season, the Ducks finally had their full roster Saturday. Playing one of last year’s Final Four teams for the third time this season, they looked every bit up to that level of competition — and built momentum before facing the fourth of last year’s Final Four teams, UConn, on Monday.
“We needed this,” Graves said. “We really needed this win.”
Former UO guard Sabrina Ionescu attended the game and sat courtside.