Turnovers clip Ducks’ wings in loss to Stanford
On Oregon’s second-to-last possession on Sunday, Ruthy Hebard turned the ball over to Stanford’s Marta Sniezek. The Cardinal would score on the ensuing play.
It was a fitting conclusion to a game in which the Ducks struggled mightily with ball control, turning the rock over 16 times. In contrast, Stanford committed just six turnovers while scoring 21 points off of the Ducks’ mistakes.
Oregon’s head coach Kelly Graves said he felt the team showed its youth on Sunday. The oldest player to take the court for the Ducks was junior Oti Gildon. Stanford on the other hand fielded a more veteran-heavy roster that included senior Brittany McPhee, who scored 33 points while turning the ball over just once.
After his team’s win over California on Friday, Graves noted that Stanford was not a team at risk of beating themselves. If the Ducks wanted to win, Graves said, they would have to play their best basketball. It was a sentiment he repeated on Sunday.
“It’s not like they pressure you,” Graves said. “We just made some poor decisions.”
For the first half, the turnover margin didn’t seem to be causing huge problems for the Ducks. While the team was still minus-4 in that area, it still entered halftime with a nine-point lead. That was in large part due to 50 percent shooting from the field and 23 rebounds.
When the Ducks’ shooting dipped to a meager 29 percent in the third quarter, the turnovers became magnified. Stanford was firing on all cylinders right as the Ducks were coming apart.
“I thought in the second half we were on our heels,” Graves said. “We weren’t aggressive like we were in the first half. We just didn’t have the same energy or fire.”
While Sabrina Ionescu led the Ducks in scoring and assists, she also had the less dubious honor of a team-leading seven turnovers. It was her third game this season with that number. Graves said that the missteps came as a result of the sophomore star’s attempts to “do too much” on certain plays.
Interestingly, the Ducks’ 16 giveaways aren’t significantly worse than the team’s season average of 13.1. However, three of the team’s four losses this year have come on nights where they gave away the ball at least 15 times.
The Ducks also average 17.1 points off of opposing turnovers — a category that was completely neutralized by Stanford on Sunday. Conversely, the Ducks hold opponents to an average of 12 points off turnovers. Once again, the Cardinal dominated the Ducks in that aspect.
The Ducks will look to bounce back on Friday when they face the Washington Huskies in Seattle. Notably, the Huskies average 18 points off turnovers while forcing 3.9 more per game from their opponents. With just three weeks left in regular season play, the matchup will be a good gauge of whether or not the Ducks can corral their ball handling.
Follow Aaron on Twitter @aaronalter95
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