EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon women’s basketball is set to open its 51stSt season Monday, as the Ducks welcome Big Sky favorite Northern Arizona to Matthew Knight Arena for a 6 pm PT tipoff.
The Ducks, who are receiving votes in both the Associated Press and coaches polls, are coming off their eighth 20-win season under 10Th– year head coach Kelly Graves. UO made a run to the quarterfinal round in the 2023 WNIT and returned four letterwinners (three starters) from last season’s squad to pair with nine newcomers (four freshmen, five transfers).
Monday’s matchup will be just the second all-time meeting between UO and NAU, with the Ducks earning a 59-47 victory at Matthew Knight Arena in 2014. Graves seeks his 10Th straight season-opening win while at Oregon, while also looking for his 56Th win in its last 57 home nonconference games.
Season and single-game tickets are now on sale and available at GoDucks.com/Tickets.
RV Oregon (0-0) vs. Northern Arizona (0-0)
Monday, Nov. 6 | 6 pm PT | Matthew Knight Arena (Eugene, Ore.)
TV: Oregon Live Stream
Radio: Oregon Sports Network (KUGN 98.1 FM/590 AM)
Play-by-play: Chris Clayton | Analyst: Bev Smith
Listen Online | Live Stats
AT A GLANCE
Oregon women’s basketball officially embarks on its 51st season, and the 10th under head coach Kelly Graveson Monday against Northern Arizona at Matthew Knight Arena.
The Ducks return three starters among four letterwinners from last year’s team that finished 20-15 and made a run to the quarterfinals of the WNIT. UO also welcomes in the nation’s 18th-ranked recruiting class that features three four-star prospects ranked in espnW’s top 100 in Sophia Bell, Sarah Rambus and Sammie Wagner.
Returners include starters Chance Gray, Phillipina Kyei and Grace VanSlooten. Both Gray and VanSlooten look to build on strong freshmen campaigns in which they were voted onto the Pac-12’s all-freshman team. Additionally, Gray earned honorable mention on the league’s all-defensive team and VanSlooten was all-Pac-12 honorable mention.
Kyei produced one of the Ducks’ best rebounding seasons in recent years, hauling in 376 rebounds (10.7 per game), which is tied for third-most in a single season in UO history.
LAST TIME OUT
In its only exhibition game of the preseason, Oregon hosted Southern Oregon on Sunday, Oct. 29 at Matthew Knight Arena, coming away with a 76-55 victory. UO’s five starters set the tone, with Chance Gray’s 17 points leading four Ducks in double figures.
Transfer Peyton Scott added 14 points, Grace VanSlooten finished with 13 and freshman Sophia Bell scored 10. Phillipina Kyei had eight points and seven rebounds while Kennedy Williams had a team-high six assists.
SCOUTING NORTHERN ARIZONA
Northern Arizona, after making two straight Big Sky championship games, was voted by the media as the Big Sky Conference favorites heading into the 2023-24 season (second by coaches). Led by reigning Big Sky Coach of the Year Loree Payne, NAU brings back seven players from last year, including starters Nyah Moran and Emily Rodabaugh, and welcome in four true freshmen and a pair of Montana State transfers in Leia Beattie and Grace Beasley.
The Lumberjacks posted a 21-14 (13-5) record to earn a share of the regular-season league title with Montana State and Sacramento State. NAU made its first-ever WNIT appearance, falling to New Mexico in the opening round.
NAU set seven school records a season ago, including points, field goals made and attempted, 3-pointers made and attempted and rebounds on its way to the program’s first 20-win season since 2006-07.
INSIDE THE SERIES
Monday’s season opener will mark just the second all-time meeting between Oregon and Northern Arizona. The previous meeting came in head coach Kelly Graves‘ first season at Oregon, with the Ducks coming away with a 59-47 win at Matthew Knight Arena. UO went 2-0 against Big Sky Conference teams a season ago (Eastern Washington, Portland State) and is 77-17 against current Big Sky members.
SEASON IN REVIEW
Oregon finished the 2022-23 season with a 20-15 record, while going 7-11 in Pac-12 play, good for an eighth-place tie in the league standings. The Ducks produced their eighth 20-win season over the last nine years, with the only exception being the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season.
Despite being one of the last four teams left out of the NCAA Tournament, UO made a run to the Great 8, or quarterfinal, round of the WNIT. Oregon hosted the first three rounds of the WNIT, defeating North Dakota State, Rice and San Diego by an average of 28.0 points a game. Oregon, who had qualified for five straight NCAA Tournament berths, made its eighth all-time appearance in the WNIT/NWIT and first since 2016.
The Ducks began the season ranked at 20th in the Associated Press top-25 poll and spent the season’s first 10 weeks in the top 25, reaching a ranking as high as No. 16. UO won two games against ranked opponents a season ago, an 85-78 neutral-site win against No. 17 Arkansas and a 73-59 victory over 14th-ranked Arizona at Matthew Knight Arena in late February, snapping a season-long seven-game losing skid.
Oregon brings back four letterwinners, including three starters, from last year’s team in Kennedy Basham, Chance Gray, Phillipina Kyei and Grace VanSlooten. Kyei was the Ducks’ leader in both rebounds (376) and blocked shots (53) last season, with her rebound total equaling the third-most ever in a season in UO history. Her 10.7 rebounds per game ranked second in the Pac-12 while her 54.1 field goal percentage ranked fourth.
Gray and VanSlooten each wrote their names in Oregon’s freshman record book, as Gray’s 56 3-pointers were tied for third-most in a single season in UO freshman history and her 77 assists were good for ninth on that list. VanSlooten finished in the top 10 in Oregon freshman history with 113 made free throws (third), 423 points (fifth), 28 blocks (seventh) and 155 made field goals (tied for seventh).
NEW TO THE PARTY
Joining Oregon’s four returners are nine talented newcomers, including four freshmen and five transfers. The freshman class, which was ranked No. 18 by espnW, is headlined by the nation’s 26th-ranked prospect and McDonald’s All-American Sophia Bell from Portland.
Along with Bell came Sarah Rambus (No. 66) and Sammie Wagner (No. 42) as well as Swedish recruit Philippa Tilliander. Wagner joined the Ducks last January after graduating early from Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio, Texas, but did not appear in a game. Wagner was able to travel and practice with the team ahead of her official debut.
A pair of fifth-year senior transfers in guards Peyton Scott (Miami (Ohio)) and Kennedy Williams (Liberty) look poised to have the biggest impact on the Ducks in 2023-24. Scott is approaching 2,000 career points after amassing 1,871 over four seasons with the Redhawks (fourth in program history). Williams led Liberty in assists each of the last three seasons, capped by a career-high 144 a season ago – the most by a Flame since 1997-98. She helped lead Liberty to a combined 91-33 (.734) record in four seasons with a WNIT berth in 2022-23.
UO also welcomes in Oregon natives Chamberlin Hive (Medford) and Bella Hamel (Hillsboro). Chamberlin played two seasons at Weber State (2019-21) before one season at UC San Diego in 2021-22. Hamel played three seasons at Lane Community College in Eugene, where she averaged a double-double with 16.5 points and 12.1 rebounds a game.
NO PLACE LIKE MKA
Since its opening in 2011, the Ducks have been dominant in defending Matthew Knight Arena, posting an all-time record of 150-60 (.714). UO is 82-13 (.863) over the last six seasons at Matthew Knight Arena, with a 40-12 conference record, winning by an average of 24.8 points per game during that span.
Under head coach Kelly Graves, UO’s offense is averaging 79.9 points a game at home – the highest number of any Pac-12 team since 2014-15. The Ducks also lead the Pac-12 in attendance over the last five seasons, averaging 7,852 fans in attendance.
The Ducks are 63-3 (.955) at home against non-conference teams under Graves, with two of the three losses coming in his first season (2014-15). Oregon has won 58 of its last 59 home games against non-league opponents, including a 44-game winning streak from Dec. 29, 2014 to Dec. 1, 2021.