Ionescu scores 19, leads No. 10 Oregon past Hawaii 85-44
LAS VEGAS (AP) Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu is only a sophomore, but she leads the Ducks like a senior.
Ionescu had 19 points and eight rebounds to lead No. 10 Oregon to an 85-44 victory over Hawaii on Friday in the Duel in the Desert.
Ionescu – who finished the tournament with 44 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and eight steals – was named MVP of the Desert Division, which also included Hawaii and Texas A&M.
”You can never go wrong with Sabrina. She fills up a stat sheet, did it again tonight,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. ”The funny thing about her is it never really matters to her if she got this many rebounds, or that many points – she wants to win. She’s just a competitor and I love that about her. She has zero ego. For someone that good, she has no ego.”
Ionescu proved her coach’s point by deflecting all praise to her teammates.
”Our starting five definitely has good chemistry, and I think that took a while to get,” said Ionescu, who has a share of the NCAA record with seven career triple-doubles. ”I feel like we have so many players that can score in different positions, and so many players that can win us a game any night. Obviously we have consistency on who has to perform in order for us to win. But I think any player, even coming off the bench, can come in and contribute enough to give us that spark.”
Ruthy Hebard hit 8 of 10 shots and finished with 18 points and six rebounds, while Lexi Bando scored 14 for the Ducks (11-2).
The Rainbow Wahine (6-6) were led by Julissa Tago, who had 11 points.
The Ducks, who won both their games in the event, shot 66.7 percent (8 of 12) in the third quarter and 47.6 percent (30 of 63) for the game.
Hawaii couldn’t keep pace, shooting 17 of 52 (32.7 percent) from the floor, including 27.3 percent (3 of 11) in the fourth quarter.
”Our bench is so deep and I think that helps us. We have different combinations, and different people that can score in multiple positions, so that definitely helps us on offense,” said Ionescu, who finished with a career-high-tying six steals. ”Defensively, we’re so long and deflect passes and get in passing lanes, and it works to our advantage.”
The Rainbow Wahine took an early 3-0 lead, but the Ducks responded with a 14-0 run, sparked by Ionescu and Bando, who combined for nine of the 14 points. Hawaii got within five behind an 11-5 spurt, but that was as close as it would get the rest of the game.
The Ducks outscored Hawaii 25-12 in the second quarter and closed the half on a 15-4 run to extend their lead to 20 at halftime. Bando scored nine of those points with three 3-pointers in the final four minutes.
”They don’t miss open shots. That’s really what it is,” Hawaii coach Laura Beeman said. ”They defend as well as they need to, but when they’re open they do not miss shots. They capitalize on every single mistake, and if you blow a scheme and they’re open, they’re going to hit the shot.”
Hawaii committed 20 turnovers, and the Ducks converted those miscues into 18 points. The Ducks also bested Hawaii in second-chance points, 12-5, and in the paint, 36-12.
Hawaii: Junior point guard Tia Kanoa had a successful non-conference campaign, tallying 66 assists through the first 12 games. Kanoa has already had five games of seven of more assists, and her 5.5 assists per game ranks 37th in the nation.
Oregon: After combining for 169 points in two games in Las Vegas, the Ducks’ offense appears to be fine-tuned at the conclusion of their non-conference schedule. Oregon ranks fifth in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 88.8 points per game.
Hawaii hosts Hawaii Pacific on Dec. 30.
Oregon opens Pac 12 play, hosting Washington State on Dec. 29.