The No. 3 Oregon Ducks stormed onto the court to an electric crowd of 12,364 — the fifth sellout in Oregon women’s basketball history — on Sunday afternoon.
The Ducks were looking for redemption after No. 19 Arizona State handed them their first and only Pac-12 loss of the season on Jan. 10 in Tempe, Ariz. Oregon secured a lopsided victory over the Sun Devils, 79-48, recording its 10th straight win and second top-20 victory of the weekend.
“I think it was definitely a revenge game for us and we knew that we are the better team and we knew that we shouldn’t have lost that game, so we had a fire in our belly to come out here and just show them how we can really play and the better team that we are,” Jazz Shelley said.
The defense made the difference in this game
The game got off to a slow start; neither team scored for the first 5:16. But Arizona State broke the dry spell, putting the first two points on the board — the only two the Sun Devils scored in the first quarter.
Both teams played relentless defense, with neither team letting their opponent get any easy shots off. Oregon held Arizona State to two points in the first, going on a 10-0 run over five minutes at the end of the period while Arizona State went cold, shooting 0-6 to close the period.
Oregon lost the game in the second half in their last matchup, but on Sunday they managed to keep Arizona to just 15 points in the third quarter while the Ducks erupted for 30 points.
“I think we were more consistent defensively,” Shelley said. “Last time we played ASU we played a really consistent three quarters and we kept them to really low scoring, but I think in the fourth quarter they ended up scoring 30 points, so we just really limited their offense.”
No Arizona State player scored in the double digits, a stark contrast from their last match up when four Sun Devils scored in the double digits.
The Ducks victory relied on crucial points from beyond the arc
Arizona State tried to shut down Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally down in the paint, so the outside shooters stepped it up, with the game’s most pivotal points coming from the 3-point line.
“They took away the roll, so we kicked it out and we found our shooters all night long and they never adjusted to it,” head coach Kelly Graves said “We were ready for it and had the open shooters when we needed them.”
Freshman Jaz Shelley erupted from the 3-point line with 14 total points shooting 4-4 from beyond the arc and 5-5 from inside it. Erin Boley also contributed 14 points, shooting 4-6 from the 3-point line. Sabrina Ionescu shot 3-5 from the 3-point line and contributed 19 points.
“We knew going into the game, as part of our game plan, that a lot of the attention was going to be focused on Ruthy rolling off of the ball screens. And so a big part of it is that we have shooters coming in and looking for that shot, confident and ready,” Boley said. “We knew it was coming so we were prepared and I think that helped all of us get into a good rhythm.”
Oregon’s outside shooting percentage finished at 52 percent while Arizona State finished at 30.8 percent.
Trouble in foul territory
The aggressive nature of this game translated to a high foul count. Ionescu and Hebard finished with three fouls, including a technical on Ionescu, and Boley finished with four. Two players on Arizona State finished with four fouls as well.
“It was really gritty at times,” Boley said. “We had to play really tough and so it’s a good feeling to keep the lead that big when there’s a lot of fouling and it’s a very physical game.”
A technical foul was called on coach Graves in the third quarter.
“I thought I’d earned it at least two quarters before, and then probably the quarter before, and finally got it in the third quarter and I didn’t care,” said Graves. “I want to play a basketball game.”
Up next, the Ducks will hit the road for four straight games beginning next weekend in Los Angeles where they will take on No. 10 UCLA and USC.
“It’s February,” Graves said. “February leads to March, March leads to April. Our kids know that the end is coming so we want to make sure that we are playing our best basketball and continuing to improve each day and I think we are.”