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Oregon beats Seattle 88-45 in first round of NCAA Tournament as Sabrina Ionescu records 10th triple-double

Fans at Matthew Knight Arena began to groan.

Oregon sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu was boxed out of two rebounds by her own teammates late in the third quarter of the Ducks’ first-round matchup against Seattle in the NCAA Tournament. Ionescu had nine rebounds, 10 assists and 14 points, just one board shy of a 10th career-triple double.

Less than 30 seconds into the fourth quarter, the rebound came, and an assist followed as Ionescu brought down an offensive rebound and tossed up a pass to Oti Gildon for the layup.

“I did hear them,” Ionescu said of the antsy Matthew Knight Arena crowd. “But coach also told me that I needed to get one more so he could take me out of the game.”

Ionescu, who finished with 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, once again led the way for Oregon, this time in a first-round win over Seattle in the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks’ 88-45 blowout in front of their home crowd means they’ll play again on Sunday against No. 10 seed Minnesota, who knocked of No. 7 seed Green Bay earlier on Friday.

“We were trying to ice Sabrina and take her out of using the screens because she’s so incredible using the screen,” Seattle head coach Suzy Barcomb said. “We just watched a lot of film and every single time she got to use a screen and turn a corner, she was there.”

Ionescu’s triple-double is the 15th ever in tournament history and sixth since 2000 — former Oregon assistant coach Nicole Powell had back-to-back triple-doubles with Stanford in the first and second rounds in 2002.

Oregon played with a speed that Seattle couldn’t match. That speed caught the Redhawks off guard as Oregon started the game on a 10-0 run and led 48-16 at the end of the first half.

“I think the rim was about the size of a penny for us,” Barcomb said. “And it looked to be a huge peach basket for Oregon.”

Ionescu had 14 of Oregon’s 48 first-half points and also collected five assists and five rebounds.

“When I saw our team diving for loose balls early in that game, I could tell that this wasn’t just another game,” Graves said. “We wouldn’t just go through the motions.”

In the second half, several of Ionescu’s teammates joined her in double-digit scoring. By the end of the game, Ruthy Hebard, Gildon, Lexi Bando and Maite Cazorla were each in double figures. Hebard finished with nine rebounds to tack onto her 12 points while Gildon scored 16 points and collected six rebounds.

Oregon’s defense kept Alexis Montgomery to two points in the first half. She finished the game with 14.

“Defensively, I think we were locked in from the beginning,” Ionescu said. “We’ve been locked in since the Pac-12 Tournament. I think we’ve played some great defense. Tonight we did that as well.”

The Ducks will have a different challenge on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. PT when they play Minnesota, which beat Green Bay 89-77. For senior and Eugene native Lexi Bando, it will be the final game of her career in front of a Matthew Knight Arena crowd, which was made up of 7,040 attendees on Friday.

“This is the end you know,” Bando said. “My career at Oregon is starting to come to an end. To be able to play on our home court again is just a good feeling.”

Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow

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Shawn Medow

Shawn Medow

Shawn is an associate sports editor and reporter for the Emerald covering football, men's basketball, women's basketball, acrobatics and tumbling, track and field/cross-country and softball. He also hosts several podcasts, including a soccer podcast, on the Emerald Podcast Network. You can contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @ShawnMedow.