It was a madhouse in Eugene throughout, as the Ducks prevailed in an dogfight over the fourth ranked Bulldogs. They won 82-74 in a game that could be viewed in a plethora of ways, be it Oregon’s consistently at the line, having shot 96.4% or Bulldogs’ head coach Vic Schaefer’s decision to sit center Teaira McCowan late. That said, McCowan who is normally a double double waiting to happen, was held to just five points. In addition, Oregon’s starting five scored 75 of the Ducks’ 82 points.
As for Mississippi State, it was the Anriel Howard show. Her 30 points were hard earned and she was locked in from the get go. Having said that, the Bulldogs are known for their depth and their bench was virtually nonexistent. Scoring phenom Myah Taylor should have been out there for more than two minutes, as Schaefer had an opportunity to add more scorers to the lineup with McCowan out.
Though Oregon’s bench was also not on display, guard Taylor Chavez was a spark plug with seven crucial points as well as on point defense in 29 minutes. The Ducks fed off the crowd who showed up and then some. A passionate fanbase and coach fueled Oregon and Mississippi State was just outplayed, it’s as simple as that.
Junior guard Sabrina Ionescu led the way with 29 points, six rebounds, and five assists in 39 minutes. It was just one of those games. Moreover, she shot 17-17 at the line and came up big in crucial moments. In short, she was unstoppable.
Howard, whose 30 points and six rebounds were also a career night, but she struggled late, having fouled out. But we learned that she is capable of carrying the load and can score at will. Going forward, look for Howard to get more minutes.
But the real sting for the Bulldogs was Jordan Danberry’s fifth foul. As soon as Danberry left the floor, Mississippi State looked out of sorts. She is formidable on both ends of the floor and has been the heart and soul of the team. Oregon exploited the Bulldogs without Danberry, as we now see her level of importance to this year’s squad.
Overall, it was a painful loss that could end up being a blessing in disguise. We now know much more about Mississippi State, as the Bulldogs have their work cut out for them going forward. Expect coach Schaefer to make some adjustments and have the maroon and white make amends starting this Thursday at Washington.