EUGENE, Ore. —
The opponent was Arizona, so of course Sabrina Ionescu was up to the challenge.
The Oregon senior scored 15 points to go with 11 rebounds and 10 assists to reach double figures in all three statistical categories for the 24th time in her career as No. 3 Oregon overcame a slow start and went on to an 85-52 rout of No. 12 Arizona on Friday night.
It was the third time Ionescu had recorded a triple-double against Arizona and second this season.
“I don’t really know what it is about them,” Ionescu said. “I was recruited by them and every time we play them they’re giving us their best shot.
“I obviously have to do the same and our team has to do the same. So we’re always amped up to play them.”
Ruthy Hebard added 22 points for the Ducks (21-2, 10-1 Pac-12) and Satou Sabally finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, plus six assists in Oregon’s ninth consecutive victory. Taylor Chavez added 17 points in a reserve role.
“They’re just a really good team,” Arizona coach Adia Barnes said. “When Satou plays good I think they’re great because she is a very difficult matchup but Sabrina is the catalyst to all of that.”
Cate Reese led Arizona (18-4, 7-4) with 17 points and Ari McDonald added 13, keeping alive her streak of having scored in double figures in each of her 59 career games, though it matched her season low. The loss ended Arizona’s five-game winning streak and was the worst defeat of the season, by margin, for the Wildcats.
After struggling early, Oregon turned its offense on and outscored the Wildcats 54-28 over the middle two quarters. Oregon shot 53% in the second half.
“I don’t know why we didn’t compete,” Barnes said. “I felt like we gave up a lot of times.
“Oregon is really good at home but the second and third quarters were really painful.”
The Ducks led 18-10 after a sloppily played first quarter. Each team committed five turnovers with the Ducks 7 of 19 from the field and the Wildcats 4 of 12.
“We were joking about it like, ‘is there butter or something on the ball?’” Ionescu said. “We haven’t played at home in a while and we were all super amped up.
“We know it’s a big weekend, the crowd was fired up and we were really excited to play obviously in a big game. We needed to settle down a little bit. Once we did our offense got flowing.”
Not much changed early in the second quarter. In a span of seven possessions, the Ducks missed three shots and had four turnovers and Arizona closed within 20-18 with eight consecutive points.
Chavez, who scored nine points in the first half, put life into Oregon’s offense with a drive to the basket, starting a 16-6 run that included the final 10 points of the second quarter by the Ducks on the way to a 39-22 halftime lead. Sabally finished the half with a 3-pointer that gave her 11 points and Ionescu added 10 points to go with six rebounds and four assists.
Hebard, with her size advantage, scored Oregon’s first eight points of the third quarter and then fed Sabally for a layup that pushed the lead to 53-28, prompting another Arizona timeout.
It didn’t do anything to change the flow of the game, and Oregon upped its lead to 72-38 entering the fourth quarter. All that was left to be decided was whether Ionescu could reach her 24th triple double, with 15 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to that point.
Ionescu recorded her 10th assist on a pass to Hebard with 6:49 left, before she was pulled from the game.
Oregon’s final point total was the most scored against Arizona this season. The Wildcats came into the game leading the Pac-12 in scoring defense (52.1 points allowed) while the Ducks lead the nation in scoring offense (86.2) but UO coach Kelly Graves felt the difference was Oregon’s defense, which he described as “night and day better” than early in the season.
“I think our last eight, nine ballgames we’ve really amped it up,” Graves added. “Few teams score out of the 50s against us and we’re one of the best offensive teams if not the best offensive team in the country. So if we can hold teams in the 50s we’re going to be in pretty good shape.”
Arizona: All four of the losses for the Wildcats are to teams currently in the top 10, though the margin of defeat to Oregon was the widest.
Oregon: The nine consecutive wins by the Ducks include six over teams ranked in the top 20.
In winning its 12 home games, Oregon’s margin of victory has been at least 32 points in all but one, a 12-point victory over Oregon State.
In matching her season low for points with 13, Arizona’s Ari McDonald was 5 of 13 from the field and missed her four 3-point attempts. She also had seven turnovers. “Ari found ways (to score) but she had to work really hard,” UA coach Adia Barnes said.
Arizona: The Wildcats play at Oregon State on Sunday, their fourth game in the past five against a ranked opponent.
Oregon: The Ducks host a Sunday rematch with Arizona State, the lone Pac-12 team to beat Oregon this season.