EUGENE, Ore. - Coach Paul Westhead of the Oregon Ducks Women basketball team relies on what he calls The System: fast, up tempo and very physical games.
When the opponent is also fast, up tempo and aggressively physical, such as the Colorado Buffaloes, it makes for an exciting 40 minutes of basketball.
The Buffaloes jammed the Ducks from the opening bell and quickly ran up an eight-point lead.
The Ducks fought back ferociously, but with just over four minutes left in the first half, the Buffaloes had stretched their lead to 15 points.
By halftime, the Ducks had narrowed the lead to just nine points, down 41 to 32.
Coming out for the second period the Ducks rallied and took control of the game.
The score was soon tied and the lead traded between teams four times.
Both Jillian Alleyne and Danielle Love got in foul trouble and with just over eight minutes in the game Love fouled out.
But with just 4:48 left in the game, the Ducks were up by three points.
Team captain Ariel Thomas encouraged the crowd to get in the game and the crowd responded with full-throated cheers.
Then it fell apart for the Ducks.
After 18 consecutive games in which she earned a double-double, Jillian Alleyne fell just short with nine rebounds and 15 total points.
Ariel Thomas had a good game with 18 points, and Chrishae Rowe managed to score 23 total points, including four three-pointers.
Westhead played nine players but the Ducks' shooting from the field was only 32.9 percent compared to the Buffaloes' 43.7 percent.
Passes were overthrown, layups were just off, and foul shots bounced off the rim.
When the final buzzer sounded the Ducks had fallen to the Buffaloes, 81-75.
Coach Westhead gave the credit to Colorado's effort.
"Colorado did a good job," Westhead said. "They got a good win on the road against us. They played well enough to win. We made some nice runs in the second half and our team showed some courage. But ...
"They earned the win, so there's no sense in me naming the four or five things I think my team or my coaching contributed to that. I'd rather think Colorado won the game and they earned it. Sometimes that happens."
Alleyne and Thomas also put the blame for the loss squarely on team effort, or rather their team's lack of it.
"I think their effort is what got to us," Alleyne said. "They definitely had at least three or four players rebounding every time, and that was to our disadvantage. We needed to box out. They do have good size with their posts, but we didn't take the extra effort to box out."
When asked why the team lost after such a strong comeback, Thomas said, "I don't think we felt we had them on the ropes. But we felt like we were playing our game. We had more effort. We definitely were crashing every board, every rebound, every shot. But, like Jill said, it was just a matter of effort, which wasn't there in the first half."
When asked what Coach Westhead told the team at halftime, Alleyne said, "Effort and energy. Don't get out hustled. We should have taken heed to what he was saying, because that's what gave Colorado the win, to their credit. They definitely did out work us. Honestly, this whole game came down to effort. Who wanted it more. We wanted it, and my team gave every ounce they could have given, but they out rebounded us, that's why we lost the game."
The Buffaloes brought down 24 offensive rebounds to the Ducks' 18, and 30 defensive rebounds to the Ducks' 23, for a total of 54 rebounds to the Ducks' 41.
Thomas said she wasn't surprised at the aggressive physical play of the Colorado Buffaloes, but "it was the effort they gave with the physical game. If we had matched their effort I don't think it would have been as bad as it was as far as offensive rebounding. But because they were so physical, and because we didn't match their effort, it made it look like we weren't ready for it."
With the loss the Ducks stand at 14-9 overall with 4-8 in conference play.
And now the Ducks have four days to get ready to play USC at 7:30 pm on February 14 at Matt Knight Arena.