Ionescu’s triple-double lifts No. 3 Oregon to 102-82
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Sabrina Ionescu’s triple doubles have become so common, she’s taken to rating them.
The latest one certainly wasn’t among her favorites.
Ionescu had her 12th career one as No. 3 Oregon cruised past Buffalo 102-82 on Sunday.
She finished with 12 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds, the last board coming with 1:24 left to play. The junior guard, a preseason All-American, missed her first six shots from the field before connecting on a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter.
“That was like the worst triple double I’ve ever had,” said Ionescu, who also had seven turnovers. “It almost shouldn’t count, but it was just nice to see everyone else step up.”
She also couldn’t recall the last time she made just one field goal.
“No, I think this is the first and last time,” Ionescu said. “Sorry, Coach.”
No apology was necessary.
“It’s what makes her a great player,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “Tonight she struggles from the field and she finds a way to get it done on the boards and with her assist game. That’s what she does.
“That’s why she’s considered one of the best players in the country, and I certainly trust her. For whatever reason, she just wasn’t in sync with her shot and wasn’t even looking for it sometimes.”
Ruthy Hebard had 13 of her 25 points in the third quarter as the Ducks (4-0) doubled their halftime lead to 20 points. All five Oregon starters scored in double figures as Satou Sabally had 20 points, and Maite Cazorla and Erin Boley added 15 each.
“It shows we have great players and we can all step up and produce when we need to,” Hebard said. “It gives us a big confidence boost knowing that we have a lot of different threats we can use throughout the season.”
The Ducks also made 34 of 38 free throws, including runs of 17 and 13 in a row, and held a 35-23 edge in rebounds.
Cierra Dillard led the Bulls (2-1) with 32 points and Courtney Wilkins added 19.
“We knew they were a good team and we knew Dillard was a great player, and she played like it tonight,” Graves said.
Oregon led 49-39 after one half slowed to a crawl by 27 personal fouls and 31 free throws.
The Ducks were 12-for-24 from 3-point range, led by Boley’s 5-for-8 effort, and held Buffalo to 9-for-31 shooting beyond the arc.
Oregon continues to suit up only nine players, and all had played by the end of the first quarter, with German freshman Nyara Sabally out for the season with an ACL injury suffered in the FIBA U18 Euro title game. All five starters are averaging at least 12 points per game.
Buffalo goes as far as Dillard can carry the scoring load, and the senior came within four of her career high, as she and Wilkins took 37 of the Bulls’ 67 shots.
Buffalo, a Sweet 16 team in 2018 that was ranked No. 21 in last season’s final AP poll, received votes in first two polls of 2018-19.
Oregon snagged a first-place vote — its first ever — from defending champion Notre Dame but lost eight points in the Week 2 poll after its close call at home against No. 18 Syracuse. The Ducks’ No. 3 ranking, an all-time best, seems secure for another week after two blowout victories.
Oregon opened the second half on a 19-8 run with Hebard scoring 11 points and Ionescu collecting five assists
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Buffalo attempted more free throws (20) than Oregon’s first three opponents combined. The Ducks have 109 attempts from the line through four games and are shooting 84.4 percent.
HE SAID IT
Graves picked up a rare technical foul in the first quarter after Hebard was called for an offensive foul when she tried to split two defenders for a shot in the lane. “I earned it,” the fifth-year coach said. “I don’t think I’ve had one in about three years and every once in a while, you just need it. Forgot to take my blood pressure pills or something today to calm me down. . When they reviewed it, they backed up my point, but then it was too late. I’d already said what I said.”
Buffalo heads to Las Vegas to play Georgetown on Friday night and South Dakota State on Saturday night.
Oregon plays UC Riverside on Friday as part of the Saint Mary’s Invitational in Moraga, California. The Ducks face the host Gaels on Saturday.