No. 10 Hoosiers face challenge in second-seeded Ducks
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — The Hoosiers have no intention of going home just yet.
With a victory over seventh-seeded Texas in the opening round of NCAA Tournament, No. 10 Indiana is set to face seconded-seeded Oregon on Sunday at Matthew Knight Arena.
“We didn’t come to Oregon just to beat Texas. There’s more to do for this group,” Indiana coach Teri Moren vowed.
Sophomore Jaelynn Penn had had 24 points, including four 3-pointers, in Indiana’s 69-65 victory over the Longhorns on Friday. Bendu Yeaney added 17 points while Brenna Wise and Ali Patberg contributed another 10 apiece for the Hoosiers (21-12), who were making their first appearance in the tournament since the 2015-16 season.
Indiana, in the tournament for the sixth time in school history, improved its overall record to 3-5 with the win over Texas.
The Hoosiers earned an at-large bid after falling to Iowa 70-61 in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals. The winners of last year’s WNIT tournament, Indiana was helped in its bid for an NCAA berth this season by a victory over No. 10 Iowa last month.
Oregon coach Kelly Graves watched some film on Indiana going into the tournament, then saw a bit of the game against Texas.
“I was impressed. They’re very well-coached, they’re fundamental, they have a bunch of kids who can shoot and score and make plays. They’re not huge inside, but it’s a team that I think knows how to win,” Graves said. “They won the WNIT last year, so they know how to win in the postseason in a one-and-done situation, so that helps.”
Oregon (30-4) easily dispatched No. 15 seed Portland State 78-40 in Friday’s other first-round game at Matthew Knight Arena.,
Satou Sabally had 21 points and a career-high 16 rebounds for the Ducks, while Ruthy Hebard added 22 points and 11 rebounds.
“When Satou plays like that, we become a different team, when she’s crashing the boards and is active like that,” Graves said. “And with Ruthy, it’s great to see her give us that double-double like she seems to do like clockwork.”
Oregon was coming off a 64-57 loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 tournament championship game.
The Ducks have been to the NCAA Tournament for the past three seasons, including Elite Eight appearances in the last two.
SABRINA’S BIG NIGHT: Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu, the NCAA career triple-double leader, had her teammates cracking up in the final moments when she caught a ball that was mistakenly passed to her out of bounds on the bench — and she shot it. She was given a technical, but the move had her teammates cracking up.
“That was just Sabrina being Sabrina,” Hebard laughed later.
She airballed the bench shot, but earlier in the game she made a stunning, shot-clock beating 3-pointer from some 35 feet out that put the crowd at Matthew Knight Arena on its feet. When she turned to run back up the court she slipped, and laughed as her teammates helped her up.
“Pick your poison, because the one that went in, I tripped after it, so they’re both just kind of like bloopers,” she said afterward.
Ionescu finished with 12 points and eight assists for the Ducks in their opener. The Pac-12 Player of the Year went into Friday’s game averaging 18 points, 7.2 assists and seven rebounds a game. She is the NCAA career leader among men and women with 17 triple-doubles, including seven this season.
HAVING FUN: The frivolity surrounding Ionescu’s “bloopers” is an example of how the confident Ducks do better when they strike a healthy balance in their approach to the tournament, Hebard said.
“We talked about that, some of the times when we’re playing our best we’re having fun and laughing,” Hebard said. “I think we came out focused and when we’re focused we have fun and we played great.”
CHEERING SECTION: Yeaney is from Portland, Oregon, and went to St. Mary’s Academy. She had a large contingent of fans at the game in Eugene, about a two-hour drive to the south.
Afterward the win over Texas, she said Morin indeed told the team at half that “this was about pride.”
“We didn’t come out here just for one game,” Yaeney echoed.
THE FUTURE: The winner of the game in the Portland Region won’t have too far to travel, with the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight set for next weekend at the Moda Center, home of the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers.