Eugene – No. 8 Oregon used a strong second half run and red hot shooting to dominate No. 18 Arizona State Sunday and run away with a 74-64 win.
The Ducks shot 66 percent en route to becoming the lone undefeated team in Pac-12 play, at 6-0. Sabrina Ionescu led four in double figures with 26 points, while Ruthy Hebard added 20 points on 9-9 shooting. Maite Cazorla scored 15 points and Satou Sabally, 10.
The hosts got out to an early lead that the Sun Devils erased, and Oregon took a 38-34 advantage into halftime. The Ducks opened the third quarter with a 16-0 run, as Arizona State missed their first seven shots, finally scoring on a Kianna Ibis three-point play at the 1:32 mark. A Cazorla three-point shot with 7:20 remaining gave Oregon their largest lead, 68-41. Coach Kelly Graves inserted reserve players, and the lead dwindled as time expired.
Though their shooting was off the charts, Graves was especially pleased with his team’s defensive effort.
“I just thought defensively we were so much better in the second half, especially in the third quarter,” he said. “That third quarter, we came out laser-focused defensively.”
Ionescu said the Ducks need to play tough defense for 40 minutes.
“I think we need to come out dialed-in defensively,” she said. “And I don’t think anyone can stop us (if we do). That third quarter I think is the best we’ve played, but we need to do that for all four quarters. If we do that, I don’t think anyone can touch us.”
Ibis led three Sun Devils in double figures with 22 points. It was their first loss to Oregon in four meetings.
The Ducks, who shot a season-low 38 percent against Arizona Friday, is now 17-2 overall. Their two losses have come at the hands of undefeated Mississippi State and unbeaten Louisville.
Ionescu said, however, that her team is still a work in progress.
“We’re not there yet, which is crazy to think,” she said. “But we show flashes here and there.”
Next up for Oregon is the “Civil War” against Oregon State. Friday they travel to Corvallis to play, and Sunday they host the No. 22 Beavers in what promises to be a bruising series.
Graves celebrated his birthday Sunday. As the game’s final seconds ticked, many in the raucous crowd of 4,516 sang “Happy Birthday” to him.