EUGENE, Ore. - The opponent was Arizona, so of course, Sabrina Ionescu was up to the challenge and earned her NCAA record 24th triple-double.
The Oregon senior scored 15 points to go with 11 rebounds and 10 assists to reach double figures in all three categories as No. 3 Oregon overcame a slow start en route to an 85-52 rout of 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.
Ionescu has dedicated the rest of the season to her friend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. She tweeted “#24 for you my guy!!!”
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 33-point loss ended Arizona’s five-game winning streak and was the worst defeat of the season for the Wildcats.
“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.”
After struggling early, Oregon turned on its offense and outscored the Wildcats 54-28 over the middle two quarters, including 33 in the third. 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, had a drive to the basket to start a 16-6 run and the final 10 points of the second quarter. 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. The Ducks led 39-22 at halftime.
The 6-foot-4 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 at that point.
Ionescu recorded her 10th assist on a pass to Hebard with 6:49 left before she was pulled from the game to an ovation.
Oregon’s 85 points were 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 Oregon 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 said. “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 largest.
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, 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,” 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.