With 28 seconds left in the game, fans at Matthew Knight Arena rose to their feet and applauded Mallory McGwire as she headed to the bench after fouling out.
The sophomore forward earned the crowd’s appreciation after posting 14 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes. McGwire’s all-around play helped Oregon snap a 14-game loosing streak to Oregon State, and clinch a 75-63 win to remain undefeated at home this season.
It was an incredibly efficient night for McGwire, who was 7-of-9 from the field in 24 minutes. It was her second consecutive game in the stating lineup after coming on the bench the previous nine games.
After playing a season high 35 minutes against Oregon State in the previous game, McGwire posted arguably her best game of the season in the back-to-back matchup versus the Beavers.
With two minutes left in the second quarter, McGwire got an offensive rebound and passed for a wide open 3-pointer by Maite Cazorla. McGwire followed that play by blocking Gülich, and hitting a midrange jumper to cap an 18-2 Oregon run and force an Oregon State timeout.
McGwire and Oregon’s defense only allowed Gülich 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“I thought Mallory set the tone, not just at the offensive end,” head coach Kelly Graves said. “She was on point in her mid range game, but I thought defensively she did a great job on Gülich. We kinda had her off her game a little bit. I really credit Mallory. She didn’t let her get deep post-ups, she held her ground, and did a nice job on the boards.”
Oregon’s defense was on full display in the first half of the game. Oregon State shot 25 percent from the field and was 1-for-7 on 3-pointers. McGwire had three blocks and made her presence known on the boards with two offensive rebounds.
“I think the first 20 minutes was as good a defense that’s ever been played in this arena … probably ever on the women’s side,” Graves said.
With Lexi Bando out of the rotation due to injury, Oregon had to space the floor differently. McGwire was able to take advantage of the spacing to consistently nail her midrange shots.
“We don’t have that fourth shooter now,” Graves said. “It comes in the form of Mallory, who hit that midrange tonight but she doesn’t have that three-point range. But if she’s making that midrange game, we still are pretty formidable.”
Hebard struggled on offense, shooting just 2-of-15 from the floor with seven points. McGwire’s excellent night helped contribute the points that Hebard normally posts.
“I’m used to playing with her, and I’m used to running that pick-and-pop,” Sabrina Ionescu said. “We ran it all last year and even in high school we ran that together,. I’m proud of her. She came in and she gave us a big lift. Her number was called and she was ready, and I think that’s something big especially with Lexi out I think everyone has to be ready to come out and contribute in a positive way.”
Follow August Howell on Twitter @howell_august