Oregon women finally hit snag

Stanford upends Ducks in Eugene, 78-65
Staff report

The Wonder Women of the University of Oregon went down in flames Sunday against the Stanford Cardinal at Matthew Knight Arena.

After a solid first half, the sixth-ranked Ducks were outscored 45-24 and lost 78-65 to the No. 24 Cardinal to drop into a first-place tie atop the Pacific 12 Conference standings with Stanford at 10-2.

Oregon dropped to 21-4 overall with its first home loss of the season.

Sabrina Ionescu scored 22 points to lead the Ducks, but Brittany McPhee tossed in 33 points for Stanford, including 31 in the second half.

The win was the sixth-straight for Stanford over Oregon, and is the lone regular-season meeting between the teams.

Stanford swept its trip through Oregon having beaten Oregon State 60-57 Friday.


Oregon women face key weekend

No. 6 Ducks face two ranked opponents at home
Staff report

The Oregon women's basketball team continues it's drive to make a national name for itself ahead of the NCAA Tournament this weekend when it faces Cal and Stanford at home.

And, that's great timing as the Ducks are unbeaten at Matthew Knight Arena this season.

The sixth-ranked Ducks face Cal, ranked No. 25, Friday, then Stanford, ranked No. 24, Sunday, with a shot at reaching 15-0 at home.

Oregon is ranked as high as it's ever been, and is leading the Pac-12 Conference with a shot at winning the regular-season title for the first time since 2000. The team reached 20 wins last weekend, the quickest it's gotten to that mark in program history.

The Ducks have not won the conference tournament since it began in 2002. Stanford is the defending champion and has won the tournament in all-but four years since then.




Pilots recover, but not all way

Portland feels better about losing to Gonzaga this time
By Cliff Pfenning,

PORTLAND - The loss to Gonzaga wasn't so painful this time, even though it came with the same message for the Portland Pilots.

"We just have to be a lot tougher," said freshman guard Marcus Shaver, Jr. "And that's on each one of us, individually to work on that."

Portland responded to an absolute thrashing at the hands of the Bulldogs, Jan. 11, with a workman-like 95-79 loss before a spirited crowd of 4,557 at the Chiles Center Thursday night in West Coast Conference men's basketball action.

Shaver led the Pilots with 16 points, and backcourt mate D'Marques Tyson added 15 points as the Pilots kept pace with their 15th-ranked opponents and tried to forget the 103-57 loss from the first meeting.

They'd have done a lot better by not getting outrebounded 15-5 on the offensive end, or having the Zags hit 35 of 64 shots from the field, including 11 three-pointers. Three Bulldogs scored in double figures led by Killian Tillie with 27 points. Tillie hit 11 of 14 shots, grabbed seven rebounds and even handed out a pair of assists as Gonzaga improved to 18-4, 8-1 in WCC play. The Bulldogs made sure not to overlook the Pilots by leading 46-30 at the half, a week after losing their lone conference game in Spokane to St. Mary's, 74-71.

"We had a good game, did a lot of things the way we want to," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "We play in a tough conference, and know not to take anyone lightly. Last week's loss was a good reminder of that, especially at home."

Portland dropped to 8-14, 2-7, with a game at St. Mary's Saturday in Moraga, Calif., just East of Oakland.

The loss ended a two-game win streak for the Pilots.

Portland put up a solid performance in the first half, but still wound up trailing 46-30 after 20 minutes, due in significant part to Tillie's 13 points, highlighted by three baskets after offensive rebounds. Gonzaga made eight of its 16 three-point attempts, led 10-2 in assists, and shot 18-of-33 overall from the field.

Once the lead hit double digits, the outcome was largely decided. Few played forward Rui Hachimura, widely considered the team's most promising NBA Draft pick in summer, just 12 minutes, which resulted in one field goal.

Portland got a sturdy performance from 7-foot-2, senior, center Phillipp Hartwich, who scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, and battled for five rebounds. The Pilots finished with five offensive rebounds, although two were the kind that got swatted out of bounds - team rebounds.

Sophomore Josh McSwiggan added nine points and four rebounds for Portland, which finished the second half 49-49 with Gonzaga.

Portland has eight games remaining after Saturday leading into the conference tournament, March 1-6 in Las Vegas.



NCAA approves Mexico colleges

Div. II GNAC might be first to admit school from South of border

NCAA Division II, the only division with a Canadian member, is opening its doors to another North American country.

On Saturday, delegates voting at the NCAA Convention’s Division II business session in Indianapolis overwhelmingly passed legislation that will allow schools in Mexico to apply for Division II membership.

The legislation is effective immediately, providing the opportunity for Mexican colleges and universities to meet this year’s Feb. 1 deadline for Division II membership applications. Mexican schools applying for membership will need to meet the same standards as schools in the U.S., which includes having accreditation from a U.S. accrediting agency and completing the minimum three-year membership process. The Division II Membership Committee vets all applicant schools and determines those which will be accepted into the division.

“Higher education now more than ever before must lead the way in helping to build inclusive communities and foster diverse learning communities and learning opportunities,” Chico State president Gayle Hutchinson said to the Division II administrators and student-athletes in attendance. “Many of our schools already have academic programs that cross cultural and country boundaries. Adopting this legislation adds a similar opportunity for our intercollegiate athletic programs.”

Ten years ago, the NCAA approved accepting Canadian schools, and in 2012, Simon Fraser in Vancouver, British Columbia became the only non-U.S. full-time member - playing in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Concordia and Western Oregon are conference members as well.

Given that there is a dearth of Division II programs in the American West, adding a program in Mexico, one that’s only about an hour’s drive from San Diego, could help save on travel costs and make scheduling easier in some sports. The CCAA does not sponsor football, so Cetys may end up playing in the Great Northwest Conference, with powerhouse Humbolt State and Simon Fraser. An American college football game between a Mexican university and a Canadian university would be pretty fun. It may be winnable for Cetys too, since Simon Fraser finished 0-10 last year.

Plus, it would give students at both schools increased opportunities for cultural exchanges and new experiences, which is part of the entire dang point of college sports.

Ducks finally score a "W"

Oregon ends seven-year losing streak to Oregon State
Staff report

The national rankings don't say it, but in what could easily be described as an upset, the Oregon women's basketball team beat Oregon State 75-63 Sunday afternoon at Matthew Knight Arena, ending a 14-game losing streak to its in-state rival.

The Ducks, ranked No. 7, lost Friday in overtime to the 18-ranked Beavers, but rolled to a win before a home crowd of 7,249 fans and back into sole possession of first place in the Pacific 12 Conference.

"I’m really happy for the Ducks today," Oregon coach Kelly Graves told media members after the game. "Great crowd, great atmosphere for women’s basketball.”

Oregon, which led by as many as 27 points, improved to 18-3 overall, and 7-1 in conference games. The Ducks held OSU to seven points in the first quarter and led 40-18 at halftime. Oregon's last win in the series came in 2011.

Oregon State dropped to 14-5, 5-3.

Satou Sabally led Oregon with 21 points. She tallied just three in the loss Friday.

Sabrina Ionescu added 15 points, 11 rebounds and six assists while playing all 40 minutes. She played all 45 minutes Friday.

Kat Tudor led the Beavers with 17 points, while Marie Gulich added 16 points and 10 rebounds.



Oregon makes another sales pitch

Ducks hand UCLA loss before sellout crowd
Staff report

EUGENE - Oregon got 25 points, including four key free throws, from sophomore point guard Payton Pritchard, and beat UCLA 94-91 Saturday at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon, which improved to 13-7 overall, and 3-4 in Pac-12 games, led by as many as 18 points in the second half before the Bruins rallied to within 88-77 with a 10-0 run in the final two minutes, and the game became a free-throw battle.

Oregon made all six of its free throws, while UCLA, 13-7 and 4-4, countered by making all four of its attempts.

The Bruins missed a half-court shot at the buzzer.

Oregon’s win came a year after it beat the Bruins on a last-second 3-pointer, which was part of a stirring run to the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four.

This season, the Ducks are essentially a long-shot to make the Tournament for a sixth-straight season.

MiKyle McIntosh and Victor Bailey Jr. had 18 points each for the Ducks Saturday. Troy Brown added 17 points.

The Ducks had three players in double figures by halftime and led 52-38 at the break. They shot 55.6 percent (20 of 36) from the field and had zero first-half turnovers.

Oregon returns to action Saturday with a home game against Oregon State, looking to square the in-state series after the Beavers won the first meeting in Corvallis in December.


Cristobal reflects on Alabama

New Oregon coach has plenty of experience with Saban
National Report

Oregon coach Mario Cristobol spent four years under Nick Saban as an assistant coach at Alabama.

To say he learned a lot in his time in Tuscaloosa would be an understatement.

Cristobol, who was named the Ducks head coach on Friday, was asked about Saban’s influence on his coaching career Sunday during an appearance on ESPNU Radio on SiriusXM.

“He’s a consummate professional,” Cristobal said. “He’s detailed, a wealth of knowledge. Whether it be in-season, off-season, regiments, structures, practice scheduling, recruiting, setting up a staff, there’s so many things that you learn in your time there. You get the chance to get your PhD in football. That’s what it is.”

Cristobal was officially promoted to head coach a year to the day after Willie Taggart was introduced as the coach at Florida State.

Cristobal -- the co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach -- was named interim coach for the Las Vegas Bowl. However, on Friday, that interim label was removed.

Before heading to Eugene, Oregon, Cristobal spent four seasons as offensive line coach at Alabama. He has six seasons of head coaching experience at Florida International, where he went 27-47, including 20-26 in conference, with two bowl appearances from 2007-12. He was also an assistant at Miami, his alma mater.

All of which shaped his career, he said on Sunday.

“But along the way, there’s no doubt, take a little bit of (Saban) and take a little bit of Jimmy Johnson,” he said. “Let’s not forget about ol’ boy down in Miami back in the day and the things that we were able to accomplish down there.”

Cristobal played his college ball at Miami, where he was an offensive tackle from 1989-92.

Oregon went 7-5 this season, including 1-4 in games without starting quarterback Justin Herbert, who missed time with a broken collarbone.

The Ducks face Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl Saturday, entering the game as a 6-point favorite.

French returns to the Bluff

UP hires former standout as women's soccer coach
Staff report

PORTLAND - The University of Portland officially introduced Michelle French as the new women’s soccer head coach with a reception on Monday afternoon at the Chiles Center.

French returns to Portland where she helped lead the Pilots to three NCAA Final Four appearances, and was a National Player of the Year finalist as a senior in 1998. A defender, French earned All-American honors with the Pilots, and she went on to become an Olympic medalist with the women’s national team.

French, who hails from Fort Lewis, Wash., spent the past 12 years coaching in the U.S. Soccer system, most recently as an assistant coach with the senior Women’s National Team. She also served on the USA National Team staff at both the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.

French was the first full-time head coach of the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team beginning in 2013. She coached the USA at the 2014 and 2016 U-20 Women’s World Cups. She was on the shortlist for the CONCACAF Female Coach of the Year Award in 2016.

As a player, French earned 14 caps for the U.S. Women’s National Team from 1997-2001. She was a member of the 2000 Olympic Team in Australia that claimed a Silver Medal. She also was on the U.S. Under-21 National Team from 1994-99, serving as the team captain the last two years.

She replaces Garrett Smith, who guided the team the past 15 years recording a 222-78-24 record. The Pilots were 5-13-1 this season, including 2-7 in West Coast Conference play.


OSU snares its top prospect

Jonathan Smith returns to Corvallis as head coach
Staff report

Oregon State has finalized a deal to bring Jonathan Smith back to Corvallis as its next head football coach.

Sports Illustrated and The Associated Press reported earlier Wednesday that Oregon State chose to hire Smith, a former Beavers quarterback who has been part of a Washington staff that has led the Huskies to consecutive double-digit-win seasons.

"I want to thank President Ray and [athletic director] Scott Barnes for their confidence in presenting me this opportunity to return to Oregon State University to be the head coach," Smith said. "I also want to express my gratitude to Coach (Chris) Petersen for providing me a path to realize my dream as a head coach."

Smith has been working as quarterbacks coach for Petersen since 2012, starting at Boise State, and then at Washington, starting in 2014.

He also had stops as an assistant at Montana and Idaho. He was a graduate assistant at Oregon State from 2002-03.

Smith was a walk-on in Corvallis, playing for the Beavers from 1998-2001. He started a quarterback on Oregon State's 2000 team that went 11-1 and defeated Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl under coach Dennis Erickson.

"We are very excited about having Coach Smith lead our program," Barnes said. "We interviewed several qualified candidates and Coach Smith emerged as our top choice. He brings to Oregon State football an impressive plan to build our program. He has a unique perspective on what it means to be a part of Beaver Nation and to be successful for our student-athletes on and off the field."

A fan favorite during his playing days, Smith ranks third on Oregon State's career list with 55 touchdown passes and 9,680 passing yards.

Oregon State has been in the market for a new coach since Gary Andersen surprisingly stepped down in early October after a 1-5 start, with the victory coming over Portland State.


Taggart bolts for Florida State

After turnaround season, Oregon football coach goes back to Florida
Staff report

Willie Taggart is headed back South, accepting the Florida State football head coaching position not quite a year after leaving the University of South Florida to become head coach at of the University of Oregon program.

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens made the announcement Tuesday, and FSU introduced Taggart to its community on Wednesday.

A native of Bradenton, Fla., Taggart, 41, began his head-coaching career by turning around Western Kentucky from 2010-2012, before doing the same at South Florida from 2013-2016. His debut years at Western Kentucky and USF both ended with two-win seasons, but not only did he turn those schools around, he did so quickly and efficiently. His second and third seasons at Western Kentucky ended with seven wins, culminating with a bowl trip in 2012.

In Tampa, he turned a USF program from 2-10 to 10-2 in just three seasons, with the biggest factor in that being his recruiting ability. He locked down the highly-coveted Tampa recruiting scene at USF and, in this last year, even got Tampa-area blue-chip recruits to cross the country with him and commit to Oregon - making the incoming class the top-rated in the nation.

In Eugene, the Ducks went from 4-8, to 7-5, with four of the five losses coming while sophomore quarterback Justin Herbert recovered from a shoulder injury.

Taggart's move was expected after Texas A&M fired Kevin Sumlin last week, and replaced him with Jimbo Fisher from FSU.

Oregon is set to play Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, Dec. 26.


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