A handful of timely 3s from Endyia Rogers coupled with some early hot shooting from her teammates helped the No. 18 Oregon women stave off a few runs from unranked Michigan State Sunday morning. The Ducks beat the Spartans 86-78 in the consolation championship of the Phil Knight Invitational at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
It seemed that every time Michigan State got within striking distance — or tied it, as the Spartans did with 7:17 to play — Rogers was waiting along the perimeter to bury a long-distance shot and give Oregon breathing room again.
Her biggest shots came toward the end of the game. After Michigan State tied it early in the fourth quarter, Rogers responded by hitting back-to-back 3s.
“It was great to see her not hesitate,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said of Rogers, who finished with 19 points, going 5-of-8 from long distance.
This is the third time footwear giant Nike has hosted the Phil Knight Invitational — named after the company’s co-founder who is known around Eugene as “Uncle Phil” for his major contributions to the athletic department.
It is the first time the PKI included women’s teams. The Ducks, who lost 85-79 to No. 8 North Carolina Thursday, went 1-1 in the showcase event. It featured five ranked teams in the two women’s brackets.
Sunday’s win was especially satisfying for Rogers given her performance on Thanksgiving, when the senior guard threw the ball away eight times and shot 4-of-8 from the field.
“We challenged (guards Te-Hina) PaoPao and Endyia,” Graves said. “Games like this, they gotta play well and they did. That’s what you’ve gotta have out of your experienced players.”
Rogers said Graves is constantly preaching that she and PaoPao have to be “great leaders even when things go bad” and admitted, “that’s one of the things I’m still learning.”
“But today I bounced back from the last game, and left it in the past,” she said. “Tonight I was feeling it from 3. I wasn’t thinking about anything; I was open so I shot it.”
“I had a feeling she’d be challenged after the last game,” Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant said, correctly anticipating the pregame speech from her coaching counterpart. “You gotta give (Rogers) credit. She made some big plays for them, did a good job getting out of our traps and creating offense for her team.”
Rogers’ back-to-back 3s were the beginning of a 13-2 run for Oregon, which created the separation it needed to close out the game.
“I’m really proud of our team,” Graves said. “We didn’t respond the other night against North Carolina and today we did.”
Sophomore Phillipina Kyei dominated the paint for Oregon, scoring 15 points, grabbing 16 rebounds — including seven offensive boards — and blocking two shots. Graves’ said Kyei’s performance showed once again “why we’re so high on her.”
PaoPao finished with 14 points, also handing out six assists. Freshman Grace VanSlooten scored 12 and grabbed seven rebounds.
The Ducks built as much as a 17-point lead in the first half, using a nearly perfect 20 minutes from PaoPao, who didn’t miss a shot until the very end of the second quarter, scoring nine points in the first period on 4-of-4 shooting.
Oregon shot 69% from the field in the first half, and finished the game hitting 53% of their field goals. The Ducks also shot 53% from 3, connecting on 10-of-19 attempts. And Oregon won the rebounding battle by 12, 39-27.
Kamaria McDaniel led Michigan State with 28 points and seven assists. Isaline Alexander scored 15 and Matilda Ekh added 14.
Graves, who publicly requested that Nike host the PK86 next year, said he’ll take away tons of positives from the tournament. Top of the list: His team is resilient.
“The first loss is always tough,” he said. “It takes the wind out of you a little bit. And we had a bad practice the day after, so it was great to see us get back up. Going home with a split is pretty good. It’s something we can build on.”
Oregon next plays Saturday when the Ducks host the University of Portland. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.