HARTFORD, Connecticut — Oregon coach Paul Westhead has always been an offensive mastermind.
From his brief tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, to his days coaching the men's team at Loyola Marymount and the Phoenix Mercury, Westhead has always employed a frantic run-and-gun style that maximized offensive opportunities.
Through the first three games of the season, the Ducks had put up points in record numbers, averaging nearly 110 a game — more than every team in the NBA this season. That came to a crashing halt Wednesday night against the No. 1 team in the country as Oregon fell to UConn 114-68, dropping the Ducks' scoring average to 99.
"I'm trying to give them a scheme to win," Westhead said. "No matter what the opposition throws at you, you have to attack right back at them."
The Huskies (5-0) weren't bothered by the frantic pace of the Ducks, who rarely let the shot clock drop below 15 before attempting a shot. In fact it only got below 12 twice the entire game. One resulted in a shot clock violation with 6:08 left in the first half — the Ducks first of the season. Although that wasn't because of a lack of trying to score. The Ducks had their shot blocked three times in that possession.
"We had a rule at Loyola that if the shot clock got to two we'd just hand the ball over to the other team," Westhead said laughing.
It's no wonder they get up nearly 90 shots a game, which is on pace to shatter the NCAA record set by Cheyney 30 years ago.
They took 88 against UConn, but only made 27.
"I don't even think that's schoolyard basketball," UConn coach Geno Auriemma quipped. "Where I grew up, if you played like that, you wouldn't be allowed to play anymore, because some of the shots that they take are just indescribable."
While the Ducks (2-2) couldn't convert on offense they were giving up layup after layup on the other end of the court to the Huskies. UConn raced out to a quick 11-2 lead and never looked back leading 62-35 at the half.
It didn't get much better in the second half for Oregon as UConn approached the school record of 126 points set against Providence in 1998.
"They are a very good team. They shot the ball well," Westhead said. "Was it 90 percent they made or just 65."
Breanna Stewart finished with 28 points to lead UConn while Stefanie Dolson added 26 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists for the second triple-double in school history.
"She was almost perfect," Westhead said. "Her shooting with poise, her rebounding her passing. I know she's a good passer. I wasn't surprised. She played a very poised experienced game. Saw an advantage and took it."
Even though the Ducks fell short, the future is bright with freshman Chrishae Rowe and sophomore Jillian Alleyne leading the way. Rowe finished with 27 points.
"We played her at four positions. It's tough on a young freshman to do all that," Westhead said. "She's like just give me the ball and we'll figure something out. We don't get too many like that."
Like the Ducks' football team, which moves at a frenetic pace often taking less than 15 seconds between plays, the women's basketball team loves to put points on the scoreboard. In their previous game against Sacramento State on Sunday, the two teams combined to set an NCAA record with 86 3-point attempts. The two schools put up a whopping 182 shots — that's over 4½ a minute.
That's nothing new for Westhead. In his two years coaching the Mercury, the team set league scoring records. No college basketball fan will ever forget the five years he spent at Loyola Marymount. He led the Lions to a 105-48 record and three straight NCAA tournament appearances, including a remarkable run to the regional final in 1990 after the death of star Hank Gathers.
The NCAA really has made a push this season to try and increase scoring from its all-time low last year. Oregon certainly wasn't part of that problem with Westhead at the helm the past five years.
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