The Oregon Ducks (10-5, 2-1 Pac-12) will be looking to keep the good times rolling in Seattle Friday night for their rivalry game with the Washington Huskies (5-5, 0-2 Pac-12).
It’s the only time these squads will meet this season, but the Oregon-Washington matchup has been played 104 times. Oregon narrowly leads the all-time series at 53-51. Oregon has won eight consecutive meet-ups with Washington and five straight on the Huskies' home court. As the squads prepare for the 105th matchup, it looks Oregon is ready to make it nine straight wins against its rivals one state north.
The Ducks reignited their season this past holiday weekend thanks to two home wins, first against No. 7 Arizona then against No. 9 UConn. Against Arizona, the Ducks were down all game until a furious fourth-quarter rally and a pretty Endyia Rogers buzzer-beating jump shot gave Oregon the overtime win. Against UConn, Oregon went on an 18-0 run early and never looked back in a dominant 72-59 win. The one constant? The rise of Te-Hina Paopao.
Oregon WBB vs. UCONN
The sophomore guard returned from injury on Jan. 2 against Carroll and has quickly made herself the focal point of the Oregon offense. Over the Ducks' current three-game win streak, Paopao has scored more than 20 points in all three contests - making her the first Duck to score 20 points in three straight games since “the Unicorn” Satou Sabally did it two seasons ago.
Speaking of the Sabally family, younger sister Nyara Sabally has been absolutely crucial to the surging Oregon squad. However, she left the game against UConn with a knee injury after taking a hard fall, silencing a Matthew Knight Arena crowd that was deafening just moments before. There was reason for concern as well, as Sabally has dealt with multiple ACL injuries and missed time this season as recently as late December.
Luckily, Head Coach Kelly Graves reassured the media on Thursday when he reported that Sabally was a participant in the same day’s practice. “I think we’re good to go there,” said Graves.
For Graves, it's no surprise that the Ducks are turning up the heat while getting healthy at the same time. All four of Oregon’s Preseason All-Pac-12 team selections in Sabally, Paopao, Rogers and Sedona Prince have missed time, meaning the team’s chemistry and style of play was bound to change once they were all on the floor together.
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But Graves has seen the potential from day one.
"They really get along, and I think it's starting to show up on the court," he said.
On the other hand, the Washington Huskies haven’t gotten a chance to get their season going. They’ve only played 10 games thanks to plenty of postponements, so it’s hard to get a read on their true talent. The Huskies' best player this season has been fourth-year junior Haley Van Dyke. Van Dyke has been a constant in the lineup since her freshman year, and the Huskies needed it after four of their six leading scorers from last season moved on from the program.
Last season, she started 20 out of 21 games for the Huskies; and this season she’s started all 10 games while leading the team in points per game at 12.4 and rebounds at 7.5.
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