It’s been two weeks since the Oregon women’s basketball team saw game action and for a little while it showed. But once the Ducks shook off the rust, they looked more like themselves and Portland State didn’t have much of a chance.
Oregon advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament with a 78-40 win over the Vikings at Matthew Knight Arena in front of 6,523 fans. The Ducks will now face 10-seed Indiana Sunday with a trip to Portland and the Sweet 16 on the line.
The Hoosiers edged out Texas 69-65 in the first game in Eugene.
Ruthy Hebard dominated on the inside with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Satou Sabally found her shooting touch from the outside once again with 21 points on 4-of-8 from the outside.
“I kind of felt it already this week in practice,” said Sabally. “We were all dialed in, we were all super focused and really excited to play this game. Today’s game was just like translating from our last practice. I think we’re all so mentally focused and engaged and looking forward to the next game. The sky is the limit for us right now.”
Sabrina Ionescu filled the stat sheet with 12 points, five rebounds and eight assists.
The Vikings were led by Ashley Bolston’s 19 points thanks to 5-of-9 shooting from long range. But she was the only player from Portland State to have an offensive impact. No other Viking managed double figures and they shot just 24.5 percent from the floor for the contest. Oregon also held its opponent to single digits in the second quarter (eight) and in the fourth quarter (six).
Portland State took the two-hour bus ride down to Eugene after winning the Big Sky Conference tournament as that leagues 4-seed. But as the 15-seed, the Vikings were matched up against a bigger and more athletic Oregon team.
But for the first quarter at least, the Vikings hung in there the best they could. It was just 22-15 Ducks after the first 10 minutes of the game, but in the second quarter, Oregon outscored Portland State 21-8 to take a commanding 43-23 halftime lead.
We mixed everything in (defensively) … our zone … we trapped a little bit,” said Oregon head coach Kelly Graves. “Maybe toward the end of the first quarter, start of the second quarter we threw in a little three-quarter court trap just for tempo sake. When our defense started to pick up, that’s when we started to separate from them.”
It was more of the same in the second half and Oregon’s main concern was to not suffer another freak injury that could play a factor later on in the tournament. The Ducks are already missing Taylor Chavez, their three-point sharp shooter than comes off the bench. She’s down with a foot injury and her return this season is far from a certainty.
Should the Ducks manage to defeat Indiana and reach the Sweet 16, it will make the third season in a row where Oregon advanced into the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
In those first two years, the Ducks’ goal was to make it that far, but those goals have changed. Oregon expects from itself to advance even further and to the Final 4 and then possibly a national title in Tampa. Before all of that can happen, the Ducks had to take it to the Vikings and in that respect, mission accomplished.
~ Don Smalley