EUGENE, Ore. — Returning from a week on the road for the Preseason WNIT and without having practiced since Sunday's loss at No. 5 Louisville, the No. 10 Oregon women's basketball team returned to action Tuesday and dispatched of Eastern Washington, 81-40, before 2,234 fans in Matthew Knight Arena.
The Ducks (4-1) led for all but 10 seconds of the game, five days after winning at No. 19 Texas A&M in the WNIT semifinals, and two days after falling in the final at Louisville. "It has not been an easy week for us," UO coach Kelly Graves said. "We were seven days on the road, had no practice for these guys. I know we looked a little rusty in terms of turnovers but we shot the ball well, shared the ball well, did a lot of good things. This was not an easy ordeal. I'm proud of them."
How It Happened: The Ducks showed some signs of fatigue with eight turnovers in the first quarter, but made 8-of-12 field-goal attempts to overcome that sloppiness and take a 23-8 lead. Oregon's defense helped in that effort, as the Ducks held the Eagles (1-3) to 1-of-15 field-goal shooting for a stretch of 10:37 from early in the first quarter to early in the second. Ruthy Hebard was 6-of-6 both from the field and the free-throw line in the first half, scoring 18 points as the Ducks took a 47-17 lead into halftime.
After the break, Eastern Washington scored on three straight possessions, and Graves inserted a fresh quintet of players just 1:40 into the third quarter. The Ducks played the next 5:36 without a starter on the floor, extending their lead from 49-23 to 58-25. Lexi Bando opened the fourth quarter with a pair of three-pointers for a 70-30 lead, and Anneli Maley scored with 3:09 to give the Ducks their biggest lead of the night at 81-38.
Who Stood Out: Hebard finished with a perfect shooting performance, going 7-of-7 from the floor and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line for a game-high 22 points. Sabrina Ionescu added a typically well-rounded effort with eight points, 10 rebounds and five assists, and Bando scored 14 on 4-of-8 three-point shooting. But the reserves played extensively too — all 12 Ducks who played got at least 10 minutes — with freshman Satou Sabally scoring 11 points, guard Aina Ayuso added eight points with two assists, and Lydia Giomi grabbing four rebounds in 11 minutes.
What It Means: The Ducks showed some grit in soundly beating the Eagles after the long road trip, and also got invaluable experience for some bench players who figure to be relied upon at times later in the year.
Story provided by UO Athletics.
UO head coach Kelly Graves
On relying on his bench so heavily
"We were hoping to. It was a long grind, man. Seven days, kids missed five days of school; that's not ideal. We were hoping that's the way it would play out, and it did. Lydia played OK. It was good to see Sierra (Campisano) get out there and get some touches."
On pulling his starters early in the third quarter
"There was no sense beating around the bush. Might as well send a message without saying anything. And that message was sent. The good teams come out and bury teams. They don't keep making the same mistakes as they did in the first half."
Sophomore forward Ruthy Hebard
On returning to the court after the road trip
"I was ready. I was excited. We're all competitors. That's something I love about this team — we all want to play as much as we can."
Notable: Hebard also set a career-high by grabbing four steals. … Giomi's 11 minutes were the most in her short career so far. … The Ducks methodically cleaned up their play over the course of the night, cutting their turnovers from eight in the first quarter to six in the second, five in the third and four in the fourth.
Up Next: The Ducks host Oklahoma in the PK80 Invitational doubleheader on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., following a noon game between No. 1 Connecticut and Michigan State.