Hebard helps No. 3 Oregon women overwhelm Utah State 88-58
LOGAN, Utah (AP) — Selected as the preseason favorite to repeat as Pac-12 champion, Oregon is embracing the challenge and living up to the expectations so far.
Ruthy Hebard had 20 points and eight rebounds, Sabrina Ionescu added 15 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 3 Oregon never trailed in beating Utah State 88-58 on Wednesday night.
Erin Boley added 14 points for the Ducks and Taylor Chavez chipped in 13 as Oregon (3-0) coasted after shooting 56 percent from the field and finishing with a 36-26 advantage on rebounds.
"We knew that we'd have to come out and play hard and aggressive from the start and not give them any hope to get into this game," Ionescu said.
Shannon Dufficy had 14 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Aggies, and Rachel Brewster added 12 points. Utah State (2-1) committed 13 turnovers which led to 19 points for Oregon. The Aggies shot 38 percent from the field, the third straight opponent the Ducks held under 40 percent.
"The defense is what is going to carry us to, hopefully, the Final Four this year," Hebard said. "We definitely need to get better. We know our offense is going to work for us. We got to control the defense a little better, but once we get that we will very hard to beat."
Ionescu wasted no time scoring from the perimeter. Her first three baskets were all 3-pointers, with the third leading a 9-0 run that helped Oregon take a 19-7 lead late in the first quarter.
Utah State briefly cut the deficit to five on back-to-back baskets from Steph Gorman and Dufficy. The Ducks answered with back-to-back 3s from Chavez and Satou Sabally to extend the lead to 25-12.
Oregon shot 75 percent from the field in the opening quarter, highlighted by 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. The Ducks only made two more 3s the rest of the game.
"It was a double whammy," Utah State coach Jerry Finkbeiner said. "It made things worse. We lost our aggressiveness defensively because their threes really just rained (down)."
The early shooting gave the Ducks plenty of momentum going into the second quarter and they built a 49-29 halftime lead. Oregon did not slack off after halftime either. The Ducks led by at least 20 over the final 15 minutes.
Oregon: The Ducks showcased their offensive depth from the opening tip. Utah State had no answer as Oregon spread the ball around and attacked them around the basket and on the perimeter. Five different players scored in double figures for the Ducks and seven players shot better than 50 percent from the field.
Utah State: After an upset victory over Washington State in their season opener, the Aggies fell against one of the nation's best teams. Utah State gave itself chances on defense to close the gap in the first half, but the Aggies lacked the scoring punch needed to keep up with Oregon when it mattered most.
Oregon finished with 17 assists on 30 baskets while only committing 10 turnovers. The Ducks were ranked fifth among NCAA Division I teams entering the game in assist to turnover ratio. They are averaging 20 assists per game and committing just 9.7 turnovers per contest.
Utah State is testing itself with a tough November schedule that features four Pac-12 opponents. The Aggies opened the season with a 72-61 victory over the Cougars. They still have games ahead against USC and Colorado at the Nugget Classic in Reno, Nevada on November 23rd and November 25th.
A comfortable road win over a Mountain West team isn't likely to move the needle either way for Oregon. The Ducks should hang onto their Top 5 ranking, barring an unexpected upset against Buffalo on Sunday.
Oregon: Hosts Buffalo on Sunday.
Utah State: Visits BYU on Tuesday.