Jan. 1, 2010
EUGENE, Ore. - Everything looked to be falling in place for Washington in their Pac-10 opener.
The Huskies had nearly weathered a blistering first half from Oregon, and their transition defense finally began to click. A 17-point deficit had been whittled to one. But Washington just had no answer for Ducks' star Taylor Lilley, who drilled a career-high eight 3-pointers in Oregon's 82-71 win over the Huskies at Mac Court. With the win, Oregon improved to 10-3, 1-0 in the conference.
Up just 56-55 with 9:51 remaining in the game, Lilley drained a 28-foot 3-pointer that essentially broke the Huskies' back. Lilley would end up with a career-best 33 points, but none were bigger than that impossible shot from well beyond the arc.
"The kid was just on fire," said UW coach Tia Jackson. "...Lilley had an exceptional game. And it took that kind of game to beat us (tonight)."
There were plenty of positives for Washington. Sophomore forward Mackenzie Argens posted a career-high 21 points, eclipsing the mark of 16 that she set in her previous game against Western Michigan as she continues to play exceptional basketball. She also pulled down a career-high nine rebounds.
Sami Whitcomb added 15 points, all in the second half. The senior swished back-to-back 3's during a hot stretch to pull the Huskies out of a deep deficit. Whitcomb deferred to her teammates in the first half, acting as a decoy while the Huskies looked to establish their size advantage on the smaller Ducks frontcourt. This included feeding some high-low passes to Argens, who scored 15 points by the break.
"We wanted to take advantage of going inside in general," Whitcomb said. "And whoever is doing their best we go to them."
And that happened to be Argens, who scored on rebound put-backs, jumpers and layups, connecting on 8-of-12 shots. She played the game in front of her family, who made the trip down from Seattle to Eugene to watch the Huskies play for the final time at Mac Court. Next year, the Ducks will move into the new Matthew Knight Arena.
Argens gave way to Whitcomb in the second half, as the senior continued her climb towards the 1,000-point barrier. She is now just 22 away from joining the exclusive club at Washington.
Initially, the Huskies struggled to contain the Ducks' transition offense, which has been kicked into hyper drive following the hiring of coach Paul Westhead, who is known around both NCAA and pro basketball for his run-and-gun style. Oregon invited Washington into a back-and-forth transition game, pressing heavily to force the Huskies into quick shots. On the flip side, Oregon scored some easy points in transition, evidenced by the three other players besides Lilley who scored in double-digits.
In the second half, the Huskies played more slow-down basketball, and the Ducks subsequently struggled.
"We were prepped and ready for them," Jackson said. "There were a couple of times where we got caught up in it a little bit. There were some times we tried to dribble through the press as opposed to being poised ... We did a very good job of (beating the press) in the second half.
If not for that one deep shot by Lilley, it might have been a different game for the Huskies. But the team had no answer for the white-hot guard.
The Huskies (5-6, 1-1) don't have time to hang their heads, as the team will turn around to play Oregon State on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. The Beavers (9-2) topped Washington State, 63-49, at Gill Coliseum.