For the second straight game, the Oregon women’s basketball team found itself down by double figures to a top-11 opponent in the fourth quarter.
And for the second time in as many games, the Ducks made a valiant comeback attempt.
Both times, however, Oregon came up short.
This time it was No. 1 Stanford that was able to hold on and fend off the upset bid by the No. 11 Ducks as the Cardinal remained undefeated with a 70-63 Pac-12 win on Friday afternoon at the Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz, California.
The Ducks (8-2, 6-2) trailed by 17 at one point in the fourth quarter Friday. They were down 11 to UCLA in the fourth quarter last Sunday before rallying to come up just short in a 73-71 loss that ended a nation-best 27 game-winning streak.
“I'm disappointed, quite frankly,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “I mean, I'm proud of the players for how we continued to battle but at the same time I'm disappointed we lost the game. You know, we've won this conference three times in a row, we expect to win. But I am proud. This is a good learning experience. I don't think anybody had us coming in here and beating these guys.”
Oregon went toe-to-toe with the Cardinal (10-0, 7-0) and became the first team to hold a halftime lead on Stanford this season.
But after Te-Hina PaoPao drained a 3-pointer to put the Ducks up 43-42 with 5:28 to play in the third, it was all Cardinal for the next seven-plus minutes.
Ana Wilson’s 3-pointer ignited an 18-4 run to close the third quarter and put the Cardinal up 60-47 heading to the final 10 minutes.
The run came shortly after Erin Boley, the Ducks' only senior starter, picked up her fourth foul with 7:29 left in the third.
“That hurt us,” Graves said. “You know we're trying to beat the best team in the land, and they're legitimately the No. 1 team, with very little senior leadership on the court, upperclass leadership.”
Still, down 17 after Stanford scored the first four point of the fourth, the Ducks never went away.
An 8-0 run, all by freshman Sydney Parrish, got the Ducks within 64-55 with 5:38 to play. However, they went scoreless over the next three-plus minutes to allow the Cardinal to keep control.
The Ducks were able get within 66-61 with just under a minute to play but despite several opportunities, that was as close as they would get as the Cardinal closed it out from the free-throw line.
“If we would have played this hard against UCLA last week, we win by double figures," Graves said. "And so at least as far as I'm concerned, we learned a lesson. And now we've just got to figure out how we take it next level and beat these teams. Today was good opportunity.”
Parrish led the Ducks with 14 points while PaoPao had 12 and Boley and Nyara Sabally each chipped in 10.
Haley Jones led all scorers with 18 for the Cardinal, who also got 14 points from Kianna Williams and 11 from Wilson.
Oregon took a 33-32 lead into the half after leading by as many as seven in the second period. The Cardinal used a 9-2 run to tie the game at 30-all before taking their first lead since 5-4 on a Jones bucket with 2:53 to play in the half.
But the only other points in the half came on a 3-pointer by Parrish, who hit two in the period, to give the Ducks the lead.
Oregon was just 13 for 35 from the field after going 4 for 14 in the second quarter. Stanford was only 13 for 30 but was 8 for 14 in the second quarter.
Eight Stanford players scored in the first half with Jones leading the way with eight.
Oregon played 11 players in the first half with Parish, Boley and Sabally each scoring six.
The Ducks took a 20-14 lead after the first quarter thanks to a deep three from Maddie Scherr at the buzzer.
The Ducks again played without Sedona Prince bit did get Taylor Chavez back. She scored six points in 20 minutes.
The Cardinal were without three players, including starting guard Lexie Hull, who was averaging 11.1 points per game.
“I think we showed today that we're capable of playing with the best,” Graves said. “A good portion of this game we were the aggressors and I think we're going to be a tough out. We're going to continue to get better. ... We learned to compete harder and play harder and every possession matters and I thought we showed that tonight. So to me, that means we're growing.
“We’re starting to settle on a lineup and a rotation and I think they're starting to get more and more comfortable. I like where we're at, but you know what we lost the game so I'm disappointed. We’ve got to now get better for Sunday and try to beat Cal because then we've got to go to the Arizona's next week. it doesn't get easier in this league. So, we'll keep getting there. I’m confident.”