“It was a long grind, man,” said head coach Kelly Graves of the team travels to the final round of the preseason WNIT. The Ducks left Eugene for College Station, Texas after their 110-77 win over Drake on November 12. A 83-68 win over the Aggies sent the Ducks on to Louisville where they fell to the 5th-ranked Cardinal 74-61 for their their first loss of the season. “Seven days … the kids missed five days of school, that’s not ideal,” said Graves. ” … We didn’t even get a chance to practice for these guys (Eastern Washington)”
A deep bench was Graves best friend in working through the road weariness and by the time the second half began the Ducks more closely resembled the team that left town the Sunday before.
While her teammates scuffled, sophomore forward Ruthy Hebard found the home confines as friendly as ever, hitting seven of seven from the floor and eight of eight from the line for a team high 22 points. Add to that a half dozen rebounds, a career high four steals and a blocked shot in 20 minutes of playing time.
“I was ready. I was excited,” she said. “We’re all competitors. That’s something I love about this tea.”
The Ducks took the lead for good at 3-2 on Lexi Bando’s three, out rebounded Eastern Washington 42-22, held the over matched Eagles to 16 of 53 from the floor (30.2%) and forced 23 turnovers.
Every available player saw at least 11 minutes of playing time an none was on the court for more than 23. Along with Hebard, Lexi Bando (14 pts) and Sabally Satou (11 pts) reached double figures in scoring. As a team the Ducks made 29 of 50 attempts from the floor (58%) and out scored the Eagles 46 to 20 in the paint.
Sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu had a game high ten rebounds.
Next up, Oregon will host the PK 80 Invitational tournament on Saturday. Perennial powerhouses UConn and Michigan State will open the double header at noon with the Ducks tangling with Oklahoma at 2:30.
~ Rick Morgan