In its season opener, Northwestern fell to Oregon 100-57 on the road. After losing superstar Veronica Burton, NU’s performance against the No. 20 team in the country did not encourage much optimism.
For Northwestern, Caileigh Walsh led the offensive attack with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting and six rebounds. Kaylah Rainey and Jillian Brown each added seven points.
That wasn’t enough to match Oregon’s Grace VanSlooten, who led the Ducks with 20 points on 10-of-16 shooting. Three other Ducks scored at least 14 points, including Te-Hina Paopao. She added 15 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Oregon quickly got ahead of Northwestern, holding the ‘Cats scoreless for almost four full minutes. The Wildcats looked uncompetitive out of the gate, turning the ball over three times and missing shots, as Oregon worked itself to a 9-0 lead. The first basket for Northwestern came off a three-pointer from Caileigh Walsh, assisted by Courtney Shaw, but Oregon followed it up with three layups to increase its lead to 15-3.
After the Ducks found the net again, Walsh scored on the subsequent drive with a layup to make the score 17-5 in Oregon’s favor and end another Northwestern scoring drought of nearly four minutes. The Ducks then added two free throws following the Wildcats’ third foul of the game. After another minute, Northwestern fouled Oregon again and Jennah Isai, who made the previous two free throws, sunk another two into the net to make the score 21-5.
With under a minute to go in the first quarter, Paige Mott made a layup to cut the deficit to 21-7 as the quarter closed out.
For the first five minutes of the second quarter, Oregon and Northwestern went back and forth, alternating shots, as the Ducks continued to force NU into a fast-paced game. Sydney Wood, Walsh, Kaylah Rainey and Jillian Brown all scored for the ‘Cats, but Oregon’s offensive attack and defensive pressure were relentless. The Ducks scored five more points off Northwestern turnovers and made a flurry of layups to increase their lead to 37-15.
Oregon’s defense outplayed the Northwestern offense, holding it to poor shots that were mostly within the paint. Rainey and Walsh did manage two three-pointers — the only three before was by Walsh for NU’s first basket— to move the score to 40-21.
Oregon continued to increase its lead, but unlike the first quarter, Northwestern managed to find the basket more frequently. Anna Morris made a jumper, and Walsh recorded her 11th and 12th points of the game with a contested layup. But even that improvement from the first to the second quarter wasn’t enough to contain Oregon’s stellar offense, as Taya Hanson sank a three-pointer with nine seconds left in the half bring it to 50-27.
The first half was dominated by Oregon. While Northwestern went 12-for-34 on field goals, Oregon went 19-for-35 and tallied eight steals.
Less than 20 seconds into the second half, Jillian Brown was fouled and made a free throw. Shortly after, Shaw made a layup to cut Oregon’s lead to an even 20 points. Then followed a series of free throws, with Oregon sinking one, Walsh earning one and Rainey making two for a 51-33 deficit.
Oregon transitioned back to its first-half shooting form, sinking six baskets while Brown, Walsh, and Wood also scored, as the Ducks returned to another 20+ lead of 61 to 40. Oregon then went on a shooting tear for the final five minutes of the third quarter, expanding its lead to 74-43. The ‘Cats only scored on a free throw from Paige Mott and a layup from Hailey Weaver, as the Ducks found the basket seven times.
The Ducks showed no signs of wavering in the fourth. In the first two minutes, Oregon made three layups and a free throw, while Lara Hartman and Jasmine McWilliams hit a three-pointer and two free throws for Northwestern respectively. Oregon continued to add to its lead with two three-pointers that moved the score to 87-48. Mott and Brown each managed layups as the baskets continued to come from the Ducks, granting Oregon a 42-point lead—94-52.
As the clock winded down, Oregon continued to score for an impressive 100-57 victory. Northwestern managed to find the net a few more times with help from Mercy Ademusayo, Brown and Caroline Lau.
Northwestern will face Penn on Sunday, looking to grab its first win back home in Evanston.