SEATTLE (AP) By this point it should be clear that even though No. 9 Oregon has three sophomores and a freshman in the starting lineup, the young Ducks can suffer a setback without turning it into a losing skid.
The latest example came Friday night when the Ducks overwhelmed undersized Washington for a 76-63 victory. Ruthy Hebard scored a career-high 30 points, including 14 in the third quarter, and the Ducks rebounded from last Sunday’s home loss to No. 17 Stanford.
Oregon (22-4, 11-2 Pac-12) has yet to lose consecutive games this season, and its losses has been followed by resounding victories.
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”They’ve shown the ability to bounce back and that shows that we are maturing. We don’t go into a tailspin,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. ”I don’t think we’re playing great ball. We’re not shooting the ball well right now. We haven’t shot the ball well in league.”
Those issues shooting from the perimeter surfaced again on Friday for Oregon, but Hebard was unstoppable in the paint. Hebard made 6 of 7 shots in the third quarter and helped Oregon build an 18-point lead. The Ducks’ lead reached 28 in the final minutes.
Hebard made 13 of 15 shots overall, most of them within a couple feet of the basket. The 6-foot-4 sophomore was part of an Oregon front line that outscored Washington 46-18 in the paint and made up for a quiet night by Sabrina Ionescu, the leading scorer in the Pac-12 at 19.9 points per game. Ionescu was 2 of 6 shooting and finished with 10 points.
”Sabrina was quiet. She didn’t force too much,” Graves said. ”We didn’t run much for her. And we were able to get the baskets inside.”
Hebard topped her career high set last season when she had 29 points against UCLA. She added 14 rebounds as Oregon outrebounded Washington 44-30.
Oregon has won four of the past five matchups against its rivals to the north.
Washington (7-17, 1-12) lost its fifth straight and simply didn’t have the size to counter Oregon in the paint. Amber Melgoza led the Huskies with 21 points and Mai-Loni Henson added 16.
”I think this is a good experience for us to play such a great team and we can learn a lot from playing against the players we played tonight,” Washington coach Jody Wynn said.
Washington made things interesting for a half, rallying from an early deficit to take a 22-19 lead on Melgoza’s three-point play early in the second quarter. Washington led 25-20 minutes later on Hannah Johnson’s 3-pointer, but Oregon closed the half on a 13-2 run and led 33-27 at the break.
Oregon blew the game open in the third quarter, outscoring Washington 27-15.
Oregon: The Ducks have won 11 games in conference play for the first time since the 2004-05 season, when they finished 12-6 overall.
Washington: Melgoza continues to shine even in a difficult season for the rebuilding Huskies. The sophomore entered the week fourth in the Pac-12 in scoring, averaging 17.2 points per game. She made 9 of 18 shots on Friday.
STAT OF THE GAME
Washington needed every break to try and hang around with the Ducks, and going 2 for 10 at the free-throw line didn’t help matters. Washington shot just one free throw in the first half.
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Maite Cazorla finished 2 of 7 from the field and had eight points for Oregon, but she matched her season high with 11 assists. Many of those came on passes to Hebard in the post.
Oregon: The Ducks face Washington State on Sunday.
Washington: The Huskies host No. 16 Oregon State on Sunday.