Satou Sabally was dominating as the Ducks ended the regular season.
The sophomore went 14-of-22 over the team’s final weekend in Arizona but she went just 10-of-28 in Las Vegas in the Pac-12 Tournament. She needed a reboot, and she got one.
Sabally slept a lot in the team’s week off. She worked out individually and honed her skills for the NCAA Tournament.
“I think this break is going to help us reach new heights,” junior guard Sabrina Ionescu said. “We gathered and talked and figured out where we went wrong in that Stanford game. I think it’s more mental stuff. I think that’s where Satou's improving whether her shots are falling or not, she has to play hard and she has to go out and rebound, and when she does everything else kind of takes care of itself.
“She did that tonight, and she came out hungry and excited to get another opportunity to play and show herself and she did that really well, obviously.”
Her rest paid off on Friday as Sabally scored 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, collecting a team-high and career-high 16 rebounds in the process to second-seeded Oregon’s first-round 78-40 win over No. 15 Portland State.
“I just felt it and I wanted to be aggressive today, and it could've been our last game, and I wanted to be 100 percent on the boards and crash every time because I know it’s really important to our team,” Sabally said. “I just have to get used to it for the upcoming games and get used to doing it right from the get-go.”
On Friday, Sabally was physical, she was fast, she was feeling it. Of course, it was Portland State she was up against. The Big Sky champions do have the height to challenge the 6-foot-4 Sabally but they don’t have anyone who can keep up with her diverse play from all corners of the court.
“When Satou plays like that, we become a different team,” head coach Kelly Graves said.
Sabally looked classes ahead of the Vikings. She was driving to the hoop, hitting 3-pointers (4-of-8), bringing down rebound after rebound and getting back to help make defensive stops.
“In a night like this, coming in and flying through the air, she definitely makes the defense think a bit more and have to box out more which is hard,” said junior forward Ruthy Hebard, who also posted a double-double with a game-high 22 points. “She did great tonight.”
The Ducks got their mojo back on Friday, especially Sabally. It was a game they were expected to win, and to win big, but it was important that they did so in the dominant fashion with big contributions from their biggest players.
With No. 10 Indiana on the horizon, another momentum-aiding win can help carry this team through the madness.
“I felt it already in practice, we were all dialed in, super focused and really excited to play this game, Sabally said. “Today’s game was just translating from our practice. I think we’re all so mentally focused on the next game.”
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow