For one quarter, the Friday night clash between the No. 6 Oregon Ducks and No. 25 California Golden Bears looked like what you’d expect of a conference matchup of ranked teams. It was an ugly, defensive period of play, and neither team seemed able to gain an edge.
By the time the game clock hit triple zeroes, the score bore no resemblance to that close game. The Ducks utterly dominated the Golden Bears, cruising to a crushing 91-54 victory.
“I’m really pleased. I thought we played a great game tonight on both ends of the floor,” head coach Kelly Graves said. “I loved our energy, focus, our intensity really for 40 minutes.”
The win keeps the Ducks atop the Pac-12, and extends the team’s home winning streak to 13 games.
Once again, Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard showcased the play that’s made them one of the best duos in college basketball. Both posted double-doubles — Ionescu finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds, while Hebard ended the night with 18 points and 11 rebounds.
Australian freshman Anneli Maley also delivered one of her best performances coming off the bench to date, tying her career-high of nine points on a trio of 3-pointers.
“I just try to go in and do my part,” Maley said. “I’m surrounded by good people, and it’s hard not to thrive in an environment where everyone is so supportive.”
While the team got off to a slow start, they erupted in the second quarter. Ionescu kicked things off with a deep 3-pointer, which marked the beginning of a 30-15 quarter for the Ducks.
The quarter’s highlight moment came with just over three minutes left on the clock. Ionescu drove under the basket before delivering a behind-the-back layup while getting fouled. Almost as if in sync with the star’s first pump, the crowd of 3,670 went crazy.
“Playing two top-25 teams is fun, especially when you get to play at home,” Ionescu said. “The crowd was awesome.”
By the end of the half, the Ducks led 46-29. When the team’s returned to begin the third quarter, the Ducks kept the pressure on with a 26-point effort.
In the span of less than a minute, Ionescu and Maley both buried 3-pointers to extend an 11-0 Oregon run.
The Ducks added another 19 points in the fourth quarter to seal the game. While the team has sometimes let opponents creep back into games, Graves said it felt good to see the Ducks deliver a final score that reflected the team’s domination.
While impressive, the Ducks’ scoring only tells half the story. The team was lights-out on the boards, out-rebounding the Golden Bears 40-28. Equally critical to their performance was the team’s defense. The Ducks stifled Cal and prevented them from ever finding an offensive rhythm.
“I think we’ve noticed that if we can play very good defense for 40 minutes, we’re gonna be hard to beat,” Ionescu said. “We have to continue to stay focused for 40 minutes.”
The Ducks will face No. 24 Stanford on Sunday in a clash for Pac-12 supremacy.
Follow Aaron on Twitter @aaronalter95