You just knew it had to happen sooner or later. There was no way a player of Dana Evans’s caliber could stay in a slump forever. It was mystifying to see her go from reliably clutch to struggling in big games. Well tonight was the night that the Dana we know and love walked walked through that door and dominated. She finished the game with 29 points including two 3-point daggers in the 4th quarter when Oregon cut the Card’s 18 point lead to 6.
Welcome back, Ms. Evans. You were missed.
The only other Card in double figures was Kianna Smith with 11. Hailey Van Lith had 8 points and 7 rebounds. Mykasa Robinson had 7 rebounds and just 1 assist but boy she made that 1 count.
Coach Walz talked about that play, “If it’s not a SportsCenter Play of the Day, that’s one of the best basketball plays I’ve seen a kid make in a split-second. It’s not like it’s a fastbreak and she throws it behind her back. It was a loose ball. It was really the only pass she could make. She made a perfect pass.”
Coach Stephanie Norman also praised Mykasa, “She’s 5’7” and she plays the four for us. I think it’s a great testimony to players at all levels of what you can do when you have the guts and fortitude to just go for it. That kid is an amazing leader and worker and she understands her role and embraces it and loves it.”
Coach Norman also said, “The kids followed the game plan. They brought the heat. I think it affected how Oregon wanted to run their offense.... With two bigs inside it’s a unique challenge for us because we’re not really built that way. So I felt like even though our posts didn’t have a lot of points that they did a great job defensively.”
Coach Walz had this to say about his post players, “Olivia Cochran and Liz Dixon, you know, aren’t going to get a ton of credit or a bunch of praise because everybody likes to look at what people do offensively. But what those two did battling tonight was pretty amazing because they had their hands full. I thought they were absolutely outstanding and did a great job of making things as difficult as they could for the Oregon post players.”
Coach Walz said, “Let me just say how proud of our kids I am. What an unbelievable effort tonight defensively and on the backboard. We’re giving up probably five inches at the five spot, then we’re probably giving up about seven inches at the four spot to start the game..... Our guards did a great job of pressuring the basketball, which we had talked about for the past two days. Our ball pressure had to be elite, and it was.”
During the broadcast it was mentioned that Asia Durr had called Dana to offer her advice and he was asked if he’d had a part in arranging that call. “ No, I did not call Asia and ask her to call and try to get in touch with Dana.... We have players that come through here that know this is a family. They stay in touch with each other. That starts with Angel McCoughtry. Angel is the first one to send me a text, the first one you’ll see things up on social media congratulating us.”
Dana said this about hearing from Asia, “ Asia, she’s just a great person all around. She wants to see everyone do well. She sent me a text. She knew I’ve been struggling, not really playing like myself. She sent me a nice text just telling me to relax. Let the game come to me, not overthink it. She told me to do a lot of form shooting and just let the game come to me. I took her words and it worked.”
Next up the Cards take on Stanford the 1 seed in their region for a shot at the Final Four. The game will be Tuesday night at 9PM on ESPN.