After a fiery start for No. 5 Oregon women’s basketball against Washington, the Ducks early double-digit lead quickly evaporated in the second quarter.
A relatively even second half fell in favor of the Ducks as Oregon (12-1, 1-0 Pac-12 ) got a comfortable late lead to beat the Washington Huskies (7-7, 1-1 Pac-12) in the Ducks’ Pac-12 opener.
Here are three takeaways from Oregon’s 84-71 win:
There are no easy games in the Pac-12
Oregon head coach Kelly Graves said he knew going into the game that Washington would not be an easy test. The Ducks beat the Huskies in both games they played last year, but Washington had already equaled its win total from last year (7) before Pac-12 play even rolled around this year.
Oregon is now the team with a target on its back. The Ducks won’t have any easy tests in Pac-12 play.
“We’re going to be the hunted one this year,” Satou Sabally said. “It’s good for us. We are a championship team and it’s good when everyone’s hunting us. We’re prepared for it.”
The second quarter slide showed holes in the Ducks’ defense that will need fixing before the remainder of conference play.
“I feel like they shot really well so we were struggling and our defense never really had our flow,” Sabally said. “It was kind of hard for us to get our fast break points because we didn’t get as many stops.”
Erin Boley was as close to lights-out as she could get, scoring the game-opening 3-pointer before hitting five first-quarter 3-pointers to lead the team with 19 points.
“It was just coming to her and our kids are smart enough to feed the hot hand,” Graves said.
However, she — and the Ducks — went quiet in the second as Washington clawed back by halftime. But her silent second quarter was a worrying sign for the Ducks.
Boley put that concern to bed in the second half, scoring three more 3-pointers in the second half, including two in the fourth quarter.
She finished the game with a career-high 28 points on 10-of-14 (6-8, 3-pt) shooting.
The Ducks knew they needed a 3-point shooter when they lost Lexi Bando after last year, and Boley has been that answer this season.
Hebard halted (by her standards)
Ruthy Hebard was a shadow of herself in most of Friday’s game. The junior who scored 33 consecutive baskets just last year managed only one field goal in the first half, which was off a putback layup on her own offensive rebound.
Hebard scored another layup in the third quarter and was subbed out for Lydia Giomi while Hebard was shooting 2-of-10 for five points. In the third, Hebard sat next to Graves on the bench to settle her down.
“She was up top of the key, she was waiting to lead the break and get that breakaway slam dunk,” Graves said. “They ended up getting the rebound and hitting somebody and she ended up getting the foul on that same possession.”
In the fourth, Hebard scored both of her attempts and managed to finish with an 11-point performance. Not bad for an off-night.
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow