Records are meant to be broken and streaks are meant to be extended and that’s exactly what the No. 10 Oregon women’s basketball team did on Friday.
With a 82-53 win over Colorado at Matthew Knight Arena to open up the Pac-12 season, the Ducks claimed their 22nd victory in a row. It is now the longest win-streak in program history. The previous was over 40 years ago, a 21-game streak back in 1978-79.
You have to go back to January 10, 2020 to find a “L” on the Oregon schedule. That was a 72-66 loss at Arizona State during the Ducks’ first Pac-12 road weekend last season.
Since then, Oregon has claimed the outright Pac-12 championship, Pac-12 tournament title and seen three players selected in the first round of the 2020 WNBA Draft.
But the win-streak is still counting.
Despite the Ducks getting picked to finish third in the preseason media polls - likely due to the roster turnover of no longer having the ‘Big 3’ Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally - expect that win-streak to keep climbing in the weeks to come.
This year’s squad not only is probably the best three-point shooting team in the country (or at least in the Kelly Graves era), but on any given night, a new face leads the offensive production.
In game one vs. Seattle U, Taylor Mikesell recorded 28 points (hitting eight three-pointers) while senior Lydia Giomi notched a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double.
In game two against Portland, senior Erin “Buckets” Boley dropped 25 points.
On Friday in the Pac-12 opener, redshirt-freshman Nyara Sabally recorded her first career double-double 20 points (a perfect 9-for-9 from the field) and 10 rebounds.
The offense can come from anyone, anywhere on the court. And it’s only been three games.
“Well that’s a great plus for a coach to have and we’ve been blessed with that kind of team make up over the last several years,” said head coach Kelly Graves following the win., “It doesn’t appear that it’s going to change. Colorado did a great job tonight of not giving Mikesell a look, but then [Te-hina] Paopao had open looks tonight. And she’s certainly capable. And Erin Boley had more looks tonight and she’s certainly capable.
“At some point - and we’re an unselfish enough team to find the hot hand to feed the player that’s feeling it on any given night - I think all that will end up ultimately helping our inside people. So, if you’re just hugging Mikesell everywhere she goes, then guess who that’s going to leave open in the middle? Nyara Sabally. She gets 20 points tonight.
“Now the next team might say, ‘We got to take away the inside and make these guys prove it from the perimeter,’ and then you might see a different result. So, I think that’s how we’re going to play most of the year. Could be different on any given night."
Pick your poison.
Oregon’s offense can hit an opposing team all over the court. On Friday, Graves went with a “bigger” lineup with both Sabally and Sedona Prince to see how the two would mesh together on the court. It forced the Buffalos' defense to converge down low which left shooters open on the outside. Boley finished with 17 points, hitting 4-for-8 from three-point range, and freshman Te-hina Paopao finished with 13 points, 3-for-6 from outside.
Now it’s a whole different animal in the Pac-12 conference and many teams know what Graves’ offense looks like, but with new faces and rotating lineups and personnel, Oregon’s keeping the rest of the conference on its toes.
Up next, the Ducks (2-0, 1-0 Pac-12) will host the Utah Utes (0-0, 0-0) on Sunday, December 6, tip-off at 11 a.m. (PT) at Matthew Knight Arena.