Boley, Ionescu lead No. 3 Oregon women past Long Beach State
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Oregon coach Kelly Graves believes Sabrina Ionescu wakes up on game day thinking about what record she might take on as her next challenge.
“I honestly think she does that kind of stuff,” he said.
Not true, the All-America guard said, despite some compelling evidence to the contrary.
Ionescu broke her own school record with 17 assists, Erin Boley scored 24 points and No. 3 Oregon rolled past Long Beach State 110-48 on Sunday.
“That was not what I woke up thinking,” Ionescu said. “Teammates make shots and we shot the ball really well, and that helped (me) get the assists.
“I knew we needed people shooting the ball well and the last few games we haven’t shot the ball like we usually do.”
Ruthy Hebard added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Ducks (7-0), and Maite Cazorla and Satou Sabally each had 18 points. After missing nine of its first 11 3-point attempts, Oregon finished 13 of 29 from the arc as Boley and Cazorla each made four.
Ionescu exited with about four minutes to play with 12 points and six rebounds, four shy of her 13th triple-double. She shares the overall NCAA record of 12 with BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth.
Nine of Ionescu’s assists came in the third quarter, prompting Graves to turn to an assistant and wonder out loud if that’s how Ionescu plans to play.
“It was really impressive and she was hunting them, too,” said Graves, who won his 100th game in his fifth season at Oregon. “I thought that made the team better, because then the team knew to make sure they were cutting and being in the right position.
“She’s phenomenal, she truly is. If we were struggling to score, she’d try to get 30, that’s just who she is. She does whatever we need, and tonight was a fun game for her.”
Shanaijah Davison led the 49ers (1-7) with 25 points off the bench. Long Beach State started four freshmen and a sophomore against an Oregon lineup with 320 combined starts.
The Ducks took control by starting the second quarter with a 14-0 run to lead 38-16, and they pushed it to 50-24 at the half. Boley led the way with 14 points and Hebard had 12.
Oregon enjoyed a 50-20 edge on points in the paint and shot 29 of 40 from inside the arc for 72.5 percent. The Ducks also made 13 of 14 free throws and outrebounded the 49ers 41-20.
Oregon scored the first 10 points of the final quarter to go up by 57 and had its largest lead of 64 with two minutes left. After coming into the game ranked 125th in the nation in scoring defense, the Ducks held Long Beach State to its season low in points on 34.5 percent shooting, including 4 of 29 from 3-point range.
“I thought our defense was really on point, especially in that second quarter when we held them to four points,” Graves said. “I just thought defensively we did a really good job tonight, and that led to some really good offense.”
The loss was the third against Pac-12 competition this season for Long Beach State, which plays a fourth Pac-12 team when it hosts Arizona next Sunday. It was the 49ers’ first defeat against a ranked team in two years.
Oregon put together its best overall performance with a week to prepare for visits to Michigan State and South Dakota State, each of which has made eight NCAA Tournament appearances in the past 10 years. The Ducks then host their first Top 10 game at Matthew Knight Arena against No. 6 Mississippi State on Dec. 18.
Oregon should siphon votes away from No. 1 Notre Dame in Monday’s poll following the Irish’s 89-71 home loss to No. 2 UConn. The Ducks’ No. 3 ranking is already their all-time high, and they trailed the Huskies by 30 points in last week’s balloting.
Hebard, the beneficiary of many of Ionescu’s assists, was her typical efficient self on 8-for-11 shooting while matching her season high for rebounds. Hebard, a junior, is shooting 71.2 percent through seven games.
Freshman Taylor Chavez, who had seven points, continues to grow into her role as Oregon’s third guard and one of its first subs, even though she sees herself as the fifth option when on the floor with the veterans. “She’s fearless and that’s what I love about her,” Graves said, “and she gets a little apprehensive. That’s a typical freshman mistake and she’s going to play through it. I’ll tell you, she’s going to be a dynamite Duck.”
Long Beach State hosts San Diego on Thursday.
Oregon plays at Michigan State next Sunday.