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Oregon hands Arizona worst loss of the season

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 12 Women’s Oregon at Arizona Photo by Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When the best things you can say about a game are that Aari McDonald kept her double-digit scoring streak alive and the freshmen got some experience, it probably wasn’t a good day for the Arizona Wildcats (18-4, 7-4). That would be putting it mildly, as the Oregon Ducks (21-2, 10-1) dominated the visitors in an 85-52 victory in Matthew Knight Arena on Friday night.

McDonald had 13 points on 5-for-17 shooting in 27 minutes. That pushed her nation-leading double-digit scoring streak to 59 games. She added six assists, two rebounds and three steals, but she also had seven turnovers in a game where the Wildcats turned it over 19 times.

Cate Reese led Arizona with 17 points, making good on eight of her 11 shots. As with the last game against Oregon, though, she struggled to rebound. She ended the game with just two boards.

Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu put together yet another triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Her teammate Ruthy Hebard led the game with 22 points on 77 percent shooting. Satou Sabally had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

The first quarter featured long scoring droughts and poor shooting for both teams. With just under four minutes gone in the quarter, the score was 9-3 in Oregon’s favor.

The problem for Arizona was that the Wildcats had longer droughts than the Ducks. The home team had taken an 18-10 lead by the end of the first period after Arizona went 4 for 12 from the field. Oregon connected on 7 of 19 shots.

It looked like the Wildcats had settled down in the second. They used an 8-2 run to close the Oregon lead to two points with 5:47 to go in the half. From that point, another scoring drought combined with five turnovers allowed the Ducks to stretch their lead back into double digits.

The Ducks certainly had a lot to do with the lack of scoring and the inability to hold onto the ball, but the Wildcats did themselves no favors. An unforced turnover with no Duck within 10 feet of them. Dribbling and passing around the perimeter to an excessive degree, ending in an empty possession. Their own mental errors helped an opponent that has shown over and over that it doesn’t need the help.

Arizona couldn’t make a dent in the second half. The Ducks extended their lead to 20, then 25, then 30. Both coaches pulled their starters at the fourth-quarter media timeout and let their reserves play until it mercifully ended.

The Wildcats can take some comfort in the knowledge that even Top 10 teams like Stanford and Oregon State were dismantled in Eugene. They will need to use whatever strategies they find most effective to put this behind them quickly. They are on their way to face a formidable Oregon State team on Sunday.