Ducks demolish Cal State, Northridge 91-43 in season opener

Oregon women’s basketball kicked off its season with a 91-43 dismantling of California State University, Northridge in the first round of the WNIT Tournament on Friday night. The No. 11 Ducks (1-0) dominated in all phases of play, shooting 45 percent from the field while holding CSUN to 27 percent. …

Oregon women’s basketball kicked off its season with a 91-43 dismantling of California State University, Northridge in the first round of the WNIT Tournament on Friday night.

The No. 11 Ducks (1-0) dominated in all phases of play, shooting 45 percent from the field while holding CSUN to 27 percent. The Ducks also scored 36 points off of 29 turnovers.

“We’re excited to be 1-0,” head coach Kelly Graves said. “I thought defensively we were on point tonight, created a lot of our offense off of our defense early. Everybody contributed tonight.”

It was sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu who opened things up in the first quarter, draining three 3-pointers in just over two minutes. Ionescu went on to score 15 points, grab six rebounds and seven assists in her 29 minutes on the floor.

“It’s just so fun with such a good team in transition,” Ionescu said. “Being able to put the ball in playmakers’ hands is really wonderful.”

Those playmakers included Matie Cazorla, Satou Sabally, Ruthy Hebard and Mallory McGwire, each of whom finished in double figures.

Cazorla had a streak of her own in the second quarter. In the closing minutes of the quarter, she made back-to-back 3-pointers. Both baskets came on assists from freshman and fellow Spaniard Aina Ayuso.

The Ducks entered halftime with a 53-20 lead.

Forward McGwire made her presence known, and scored six points in the third quarter’s opening four minutes. The Ducks’ defense stifled CSUN for the remainder of the game, only allowing 23 more points through the final two quarters.

Even with the team holding a 53-point lead in the third quarter, the effort of the Ducks was ever-present. At one point, three Oregon starters ended up on the floor after diving for an errant ball.

“That should tell you everything you need to know about this team,” Graves said. “When we get that kind of effort, everybody wins.”

The Ducks used 12 players in the win. With 38 points, the Ducks’ bench signaled its arrival. Graves added that in the future he’s comfortable with “riding the hot hand” when the bench is firing on all cylinders.

Among those making their debuts, the Ducks’ international freshmen trio of Sabally, Anneli Maley and Ayuso stood out.

“They play the game a different way,” Ionescu said. “They bring finesse and move like we’ve never seen. It’s going to be fun having them around.”

While he’s happy with the win, Graves is already looking to the team’s next matchup against Drake in the second round of the WNIT on Sunday at 2 p.m. at Matthew Knight Arena.

“We get to pat ourselves on the back tonight, feel good about it,” Graves said. “Then guess what? It’s Saturday morning 8AM practice. Back to work.”

Follow Aaron Alter on Twitter @aaronalter95


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