Between the loss of Spanish star Maite Cazorla at the end of last season’s Final Four run, and the impending end of the Sabrina Ionescu era after this campaign, Oregon are finding themselves needing to constantly reload in the back court of late. USC grad transfer Minyon Moore has been a welcome addition for this year, but Australian freshman Jaz Shelley is making her case to be part of a longer-term solution for the Ducks.
A second double-figure scoring effort of the season against Long Beach State saw the Under 17 World Cup winner put up a career-high 17 points as the Ducks dominated in an 81-45 victory. However she would immediately back up to obliterate that mark in a record-breaking 32-point effort in an 84-41 win over UC Riverside.
Despite not starting, Shelley played more minutes than any Oregon player other than Ionescu against Long Beach State, with the pair both seeing 30 minutes of action. Entering the game midway through the opening term, Shelley started as she meant to go on, burying a pair of threes to round out a 31-12 first quarter.
That pair of long bombs would be just the start of an outstanding shooting performance from Shelley. The freshman added three more in the second half to finish with 5 of 8 from beyond the arc. Shelley’s 17 points were Oregon’s second highest for the game, behind only Ionescu. The pair combined for 38 points, with Ionescu also dishing the assist for two of Shelley’s baskets.
However, Shelley was far from done for the week, outstripping that performance as the Ducks put UC Riverside to the sword. The freshman earned her first career start, and repaid coach Kelly Graves in spades. Starting the game needing six threes to qualify for the NCAA leaderboard, Shelley ensured that her name would not only sit on that list, but occupy a healthy position as she buried 7 of 9 threes to register 23 points through three quarters.
Although Shelley finished the game with 7 threes, there was no fast start this time around. Eight points at halftime on the back of a pair of baskets from deep was a decent start, but something clicked after halftime. The Sapphires and Gems star connected on five of six from deep in the last six minutes of the third quarter, helping Oregon to a 23-6 term and a 61-28 lead with still a quarter to play.
There was more to come, though. An eighth long bomb with just under four minutes to play drew Shelley within one of the program record, but time was quickly running out to eclipse that mark. But two more in the space of 24 seconds either side of the two-minute mark, both off assists from Taylor Chavez, saw Shelley etch her name into Oregon folklore with her tenth three-pointer to round out a mammoth 32-point outing. Shelley alone would come up just nine points short of UC Riverside’s total as Oregon rolled to an 84-41 victory, finishing the contest shooting 10 of 14 from deep, with her only other points coming on a 2 of 2 afternoon at the charity stripe.
The performance also had a startling effect on Shelley’s season numbers. Coming into the game, the freshman had shot 14 of 37 from beyond the arc at a clip that would sit around 150th in the nation – had she made enough shots to qualify for the leader board. Following the game against UC Riverside, Shelley’s 24 of 51 for the season now ranks as 25th in the nation, with the volume of shots taking her above the requirement of two made threes per contest. Her 47% clip also now leads the Oregon roster, and is also the top mark of all qualified Australians, ahead of New Mexico sophomore Ahlise Hurst’s 44.3%.
Not far away from Eugene, another Aussie point guard returned following an injury absence as sophomore Haylee Andrews made her comeback for Portland. Although the Pilots gave up a healthy lead in falling to a 77-71 loss to local rivals Portland State, Andrews was more than encouraging in her first game after a month out, tallying 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. Once again, Alexandra Fowler was also among Portland’s best, also registering 20 points alongside 7 rebounds and 4 assists. The third member of the Pilots’ Aussie trio, Keeley Frawley, was impressive enough off the bench to garner 35 minutes of playing time, finishing with 8 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Just three hours’ drive up I-5 away, Courtney Murphy and Georgia Kehoe were again solid for Seattle as they dismantled NAIA side Warner Pacific 89-47. Murphy knocked down 6 of 16 from deep on her way to a game-high 21 points, her seventh consecutive double-figure scoring effort and second 20-point game of the season. Meanwhile, Kehoe followed last week’s 16-point outing against Sacramento State with 15 points and 6 rebounds as the redshirt freshman continues to make up for lost time.
Emma Clarke also continued her good form of recent weeks, improving her scoring career-high for the third consecutive game in a 96-70 win over Denver. Clarke buried 5 of 8 from beyond the arc on her way to 21 points, improving her three-point shooting for the season to an even 40%. Clarke’s output of 57 points across her last three games is equal to her scoring for the previous six games, whilst the Western Australian is also collecting 5.7 rebounds per contest as she develops into a star for the still-undefeated Buffaloes.