During the women’s basketball exhibition game on Saturday, there was no score on the scoreboard. The focus wasn’t on who won the game; it was on helping others.
Oregon women’s basketball hosted an early-morning charity exhibition against Portland State to raise money for wildfire relief through the American Red Cross. The Ducks won the game 88-60, but the score was never that important.
“We all obviously love the state of Oregon; it’s a beautiful state,” head coach Kelly Graves said. “This was neat – a really good byproduct was the fact we got to play live. Our fans got to see us. They’re all here for a reason. Looked like it was a pretty good crowd. This was a good day all in all — everybody won.”
Sophomore Sabrina Ionescu picked up where she left off after last season’s stellar freshman year. She scored 23 points for the Ducks while grabbing six rebounds and making six assists.
Ruthy Hebard can say the same. She had a double-double with 14 points and added 11 assists.
“She’s getting stronger in the weight room and that’s definitely helping her get off the ground and get some boards,” Ionescu said.
Freshmen Satou Sabally and Anneli Maley were impressive in their Matt Knight Arena debuts – the two international players were the Ducks’ first two off the bench. Sabally scored seven points while Maley scored six and grabbed five rebounds.
“Satou took a little bit of time to kind of get her feet wet, but once she did, people got to see how special she can be,” Graves said. “And then Anneli just works her butt off. She’s great on the boards, you know: just plays hard, real versatile, can guard anybody.”
Graves has stressed the importance on improving the team’s defense throughout the offseason.
“I learned that we’ve got a lot of work to do defensively,” Graves said. “We got a lot of work to do communication-wise still. We’re trying to switch up our defenses a lot and there were three or four occasions after timeouts where we didn’t really know what we were in.”
At halftime, the Ducks led 46-31. The second half gave the Ducks the chance to pull away, and they did just that once the jitters went away.
“We definitely picked it up in that second half and I think people started to get more comfortable playing and it showed,” Ionescu said. “We played way better in the second half defensively and offensively than we did in the first half.”
The Ducks’ first competitive game is Nov. 5 at Matt Knight Arena against Westmont, a Santa Barbara-based NAIA school.
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow