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Oregon Ducks guard Sabrina Ionescu (20) eyes down the Long Beach State ball handler. Oregon Ducks women's basketball takes on the Long Beach State 49ers at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene Ore. on Dec. 2, 2018. (Henry Ward/Emerald)

Following a long string of assists from junior point guard Sabrina Ionescu in the third quarter, head coach Kelly Graves said he leaned over to his assistants and said, "Does Sabrina just wake up sometimes and say, 'you know what, today I'm going to break the assist record.' Because I honestly think she does that kind of stuff."

Led by Ionescu's 17 assists — a UO single-game record — No. 3 Oregon women's basketball improved to 7-0 with a 110-48 victory over Long Beach State (1-6).

"She was hunting them too," said Graves regarding Ionescu, who is fifth in the nation with seven assists per game. "I thought that made the team better because the team knew to make sure they were cutting to be in the right position."

However, Ionescu, who didn't even know she had broken the record until after the game, attributes her record-breaking performance to the efficient scoring of her teammates. 

"The last few games we haven't necessarily shot the ball like we usually do," said Ionescu. "I figured that once we start getting Erin, Satou, Taylor and Maite some shots, they'll have more confidence going in to this next road trip."

Ionescu, who has had trouble with turnovers in the past, only had two on a day of prolific passing.

"I shouldn't have even had two turnovers, but I remember both of them. It kind of sucks," joked Ionescu.

Against the zone defense of Long Beach State, Graves said his team found opportunities that allowed them to gather a season-high of 27 assists.

Scoring efficiency in the paint provided the Ducks openings to kick the ball out for three-point shots, said Graves. The team shot 13-29 beyond the arc from five different players, led by senior guard Maite Cazorla and redshirt sophomore forward Erin Boley who each made four.

"There are so many players that can do so much, so when we're hitting our shots it just helps us even more," said Ionescu, who shot 2-3 from beyond the arc and 5-6 from the field. "When the floor is spread and shooters are shooting the ball well that gives you the whole paint to work with." 

Junior power forward Ruthy Hebard, who had 19 points and led the Ducks with 14 rebounds, said successful ball movement around the court helps her team feel more competitive.

"I thought we came out with energy, intensity, focus and we executed well," said Graves. "I thought it was consistent for the whole game. As a coach that really pleases me and I'm really happy for our team." 

Next up for the Ducks is a two-game road trip where the team will travel first to Michigan State, and then to South Dakota State.

"We talked about wanting some momentum going into that road trip, and I think today they took it to heart," said Graves. "Those are two good teams that we're playing on the road. And let's face it. There's nowhere you'd rather be in December than South Dakota."

Sports reporter covering soccer, cross country, women's basketball, track and field and baseball.


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