With halftime approaching, the Ducks and the Anteaters were tied 34-34 as Oregon had watched its 10-point lead slip, giving UC Irvine room to catch up and tie the game.
A layup by freshman Taylor Chavez got the Ducks above by two, but UCI responded by drawing a foul 15 seconds later.
Yet, when both of UCI’s Alexus Seaton’s free-throw attempts missed, Oregon brought back momentum with a 15-6 run to get back on top.
Despite first-half stalls, Oregon (11-1) wrapped up its 2018 nonconference schedule Friday afternoon with a 115-69 win over the UC Irvine Anteaters (9-2), highlighted by Sabrina Ionescu's 14th career triple-double. The win marks a four-game win streak and a six-game home-court win streak for the Ducks.
In its second game without head coach Kelly Graves, who was serving game two of his NCAA suspension, the Oregon team relied on its depth on the bench to rally back after poor defense allowed UCI to catch up.
“There is just so many weapons night in and night out," Ionescu said. "Knowing that we can count on each other and count on our strengths and work on our weaknesses is something that we’re going to keep doing.”
Oregon had a three-minute scoring drought to start the second quarter, allowing UCI to catch up. The Ducks didn’t find their grove until the final four minutes, using a six-point run to gain separation from UCI at the halftime score of 51-40.
“With this team we want to push the ball, regardless of the opponent,” said associate head coach Mark Campbell, who was filling in again for Graves. “We weren’t quite getting the stops that we wanted, and credit them and their players for hitting some tough shots, but the tempo was what we wanted, and we didn’t think they could maintain it over the course of 40 minutes."
Despite its hot start, UCI couldn’t keep up after the halftime break and fell apart in the third quarter. The Anteaters shot only 4-of-22 as an Oregon run of 23-9 gave the Ducks the upper hand on the court going into the final quarter.
The Ducks secured the 115-69 win with the help of starting the fourth with back-to-back 3-pointers from Ionescu and an early 10-0 run within the first two minutes.
Ionescu extended the NCAA record she set just a day prior, with 13 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds.
Ruthy Hebard recorded her fourth double-double of the season, shooting 11-of-12 for 23 points and 15 rebounds. Her missed shot came early in the third quarter and capped a streak of 19 made baskets completed field goals since Tuesday’s game against Mississippi State.
Senior point guard Maite Cazorla also earned a double-double with 13 points and 10 assists.
Sophomores Satou Sabally and Lyida Giomi had career-high nights. Sabally scored a career-high 27 points on a career-high 11 field goals, and Giomi ended the game with a career-high 11 rebounds.
With Graves back at the helm, the team will regroup and play an exhibition game at home on Sunday Dec. 30 against Concordia at 2 p.m.
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter @maggie_vanoni