SportsWomen's Basketball

Ducks steamroll Eastern Washington, 81-40, to remain undefeated at home

Oregon women’s basketball brought down the hammer with an 81-40 victory over the Eastern Washington Eagles on Tuesday night at Matthew Knight Arena.

The dominant performance came on the heels of a tough road loss to the Louisville Cardinals, and kept the Ducks (4-1) undefeated on their home court.

“It felt good to get back home, get back up on the horse again,” Oregon head coach Kelly Graves said. “This has not been an easy week for us. We were seven days on the road — left last Tuesday, got in yesterday. I’m proud of them. All in all, it was a pretty good effort.”

Oregon started the game a little slow, with an uncharacteristic turnover from Ruthy Hebard that allowed the Eagles to get on the board first. Lexi Bando responded by draining a deep 3-pointer to give Oregon the lead.

The Ducks stepped on the gas and never looked back, finishing the quarter with a 23-8 lead.

Freshman phenom Satou Sabally stepped up when she was subbed in with five minutes left to play in the first quarter. Her time on the floor started with an errant pass that was intercepted by an Eagles player. In a display of awareness and athleticism, Sabally rushed back to her hoop to deliver a swift block. She went on to deliver another block, along with a pair of rebounds and a layup in just under five minutes of play in the quarter.

“It’s what you have to have, that next play mentality,” Graves said of Sabally’s effort. “She’s really maturing right before our eyes. I think it’s fun to watch, and people will be excited to see the growth she has a player.”

The Ducks didn’t let up in the second quarter, scoring 24 points on 69 percent shooting.

That was in large part to forward Ruthy Hebard, who led her team with 22 points in addition to six rebounds. She didn’t miss a single shot in the first half and forced four steals, two of which led to points for the Ducks.

“She had a perfect night,” Graves said. “That doesn’t happen very often.”

While they held the lead through the second half, the Ducks weren’t quite as explosive. Their shooting cooled off to a still respectable 41 percent as Graves gave his freshmen more playing time.

Flying under the radar somewhat was Sabrina Ionescu. While she failed to reach double-figure scoring, she had one of the game’s best highlights when she came flying into the paint to score a last-second putback basket. She also added ten rebounds and five assists.

Bando made her presence felt again in the fourth with a pair of buckets from three. The senior guard has continued to uphold her reputation as one of the nation’s top three-point shooters, making baskets from beyond the arc at a 65 percent clip this season.

Moving forward, the Ducks will prepare to face Oklahoma in the PK80 tournament this weekend. It’s an opportunity Graves is looking forward to.

“This is such a great opportunity,” Graves said. “They’re [Oklahoma] good. They play their butts off.”

The Ducks will face the Sooners at 2:30 pm at Matthew Knight Arena this Saturday.

Follow Aaron on Twitter @aaronalter95 

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Aaron Alter

Aaron Alter