Surviving the cold
Oregon overcomes cold spell to defeat Cincinnati 65-56
Posted: Friday March 12, 1999 11:37 PM
AMES, Iowa (AP) -- Sure, Oregon was much taller than Cincinnati, and yes, the Ducks got a lot of easy baskets.
But the way Cincinnati coach Laurie Pirtle saw it, size wasn't the difference in Oregon's 65-56 victory Friday night in the NCAA women's Mideast Regional.
"'The difference tonight wasn't their height. The key was they got easy baskets off their defense," Pirtle said. "I thought we did a good job against their size."
Freshman Shaquala Williams got four breakaway baskets in scoring 16 points for fifth-seeded Oregon (25-5), which built a 14-point lead and then held off a comeback that pulled 12th-seeded Cincinnati to within a point.
Angelina Wolvert also scored 16 points for the Ducks, getting all seven of her baskets inside, while Brianne Meharry had 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Oregon, ranked 16th, matched its school record for victories in a season and moved into a second-round game Sunday night. Doris Scott's 15 points led Cincinnati (22-9), which was playing in the NCAA tournament for just the second time.
''I think this is a good test for us," said Williams, the Pac-10 freshman of the year. "If we can play a bad game and still win, that's good for us."
Taller at every position inside, Oregon got nine of its 16 first-half baskets in the paint in taking a 38-30 lead and went up 47-33 when Meharry converted a three-point play inside with 14:55 left.
It was 52-39 with 11:59 to play when Cincinnati turned up its defensive pressure. The Bearcats forced six straight turnovers and ran off 12 straight points, pulling to 52-51 on Scott's three-point play with 8:38 remaining.
"'We were kind of in a funk and Cincinnati took great advantage of that," Meharry said. "It got a little close and we were a little bit nervous, but we kept our composure and that's a plus."
Cincinnati had two chances to take the lead. But Scott missed an off-balance jump shot, the Bearcats turned it over on their next possession and Oregon regrouped after scoring only five points during a span of 10:11.
Meharry's free throw made it 57-54 and Natasha O'Brien, who had not scored since early in the first half, hit a jump shot for a 59-54 lead. Those points started a 9-0 run that finished off the Bearcats.
"I think they controlled the last two minutes, made some shots, and we didn't," Pirtle said.
Cincinnati shot only 29 percent (9-for-31) in the second half and 36.8 percent for the game. Madinah Slaise, Cincinnati's leading scorer with a 20-point average, scored just 12 on 3-for-17 shooting.
"'Our defense has been strong all year," Oregon coach Jody Runge said. "We depended on our defense. When we couldn't score, they had trouble scoring also."
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