Oregon head coach Kelly Graves was harsh in his assessment of the Ducks non-conference play, saying they “sleep walked” through the early portion of the schedule but with all attention now turned to Pac-12 play, his expectations were for the Ducks to ratchet up their intensity and execution.
If that was the message sent, his team was all ears as the Ducks raced past the Colorado Buffaloes 104-46 Friday night at Matthew Knight Arena.
“I wanted our team to realize – and they did – that this was really important,” said Graves.“I think they needed this, they wanted this … I think we’ve got to keep giving that kind of effort and if we do we’re going to be hard to beat.”
Five players posted double digits in the scorebook with the Ducks’ dynamic duo of Ruthy Hebard and Sabrina Ionescu leading the way with 21 points each. Satou Sabally added 17 as Oregon connected on 40 of 69 attempts, scorching the net at a 58% clip.
Graves was particularly pleased with the defensive effort, singling out the play of guard Minyon Moore. Oregon forced Colorado into 21 turnovers and held the Buffs to just 16 of 60 (26.7%) from the floor.
“We needed to improve our intensity and be better than last year in that,” Sabally said. “I think it showed, especially through our communication.”
“It was really fun,” said Hebard. “(Our) first Pac-12 game … I think we responded really well to the challenges and that’s what makes us such a special team.”
Both Hebard and Ionescu reached career milestones in the win, Hebard became the fourth Duck and 12th player in the Pac-12 to score 2000 points and Ionescu dished out the 900th assist of her career.
“They’re as good as any duo that’s ever done it,” said Graves of his two seniors.
With the win Oregon’s record improved to 11-1 overall and 1-0 in conference play. Colorado suffered its first loss of the year, falling to 12-1 on the year and 0-1 in the Pac-12. Next up the Ducks will host Utah with tip off set for 2:00 pm Sunday.
~ Rick Morgan