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Hart graduate Taylor Lilley: Better great than never

Oregon guard is finishing her collegiate career in record-breaking fashion

Posted: January 17, 2010 9:09 p.m.
Updated: January 18, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Oregon guard and Hart High graduate Taylor Lilley, left, is fouled by Washington's Sami Whitcomb, during a game last season in Seattle. Lilley broke the school's career 3-point record earlier this month.

 
Things haven’t changed.

In fact, they may have gotten better.

Hart High graduate Taylor Lilley is finishing her collegiate career at Oregon in grand fashion.

“It’s definitely been something that’s not expected,” Lilley says. “Going into college, you have a set of expectations. This year, I’m just starting to achieve them.”

On Jan. 4, the 5-foot-6-inch senior guard was named Pac-10 Player of the Week.

She rang in the new year by scoring a career-high 33 points in an 82-71 victory over Washington on Jan. 1.

In the contest, Lilley made eight 3-pointers, tying the Oregon single-game record. The eighth 3-pointers also helped her break the school’s career 3-point record of 189, previously held by Missy Croshaw, who played from 1991 to 1994.

“It was really cool when I broke the record,” Lilley says. “The fans were amazing ... at one point they were chanting ‘Taylor.’”

She also crossed the 1,000-point mark for her career in the game.

It shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Lilley has had this sort of success at the college level.

The 2006 Hart graduate made 275 3-pointers in her prep career — 13th in state history.

Her 44.1 percent mark from beyond the arc is second in California prep history.

If there was any doubt, it would come from her size.

“When she left high school, her size was the only question,” says Dave Munroe, her head coach at Hart who now lives in Denver suburb Stapleton, Colo. “But she’s answered all the questions. She takes charges. Gets more rebounds for her size. She can definitely shoot with anybody.”

Munroe drove to Wyoming to see Lilley play the University of Wyoming on Dec. 20.

The day he drove out, he got a call from Lilley, who was in Denver, trying to meet up with her former coach.

Munroe had to explain he was on his way to see her in Wyoming.

“I was so pumped (to see him),” she says. “It’s amazing when I have people from high school still following me. It’s pretty neat to see all the people.”

Lilley scored 14 points and had six steals in a half of play, as she hurt her ankle in the 78-66 Oregon win.

She’s healthy right now and Oregon is thriving.

Under first-season head coach Paul Westhead, the same Paul Westhead who coached the Lakers to an NBA championship in 1980, the Ducks have employed a “run and gun” offense that emphasizes the fast break and quick decisions.

Oregon is leading the nation in scoring and its 12-5 overall start is its best since the 1998-99 season.

Lilley leads the team in scoring at 16.7 points per game.

“We’re right in your face for 40 minutes,” Lilley says. “It’s a lot of fun. You don’t have time to think that much. You don’t have time to dwell. You have that aggressive mentality.”

Munroe says in the Wyoming game, he saw Westhead give Lilley a look after she passed up a 3-pointer.

Westhead motioned to her to shoot.

What she’s shooting for from here on out is a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Oregon hasn’t been there since 2005.

“It’s something I really wanted to do since I got here,” she says. “This year we have a lot of potential. Personal-wise, keep doing what I’m doing. I’m feeling really good and in rhythm.”

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