No one could blame the Oregon women’s basketball team if they were a little sleepy with an 11 am start time and coming off one of the biggest wins in program history.
But once the pot of coffee was made and consumed, the Ducks woke up and smashed Air Force 82-36.
For No. 7 Oregon, it was good that it could put the win over No. 4 Mississippi State in the rearview mirror and not let the Falcons have any ideas of an upset.
Sabrina Ionescu racked up her 13th career triple-double, which broke the all time NCAA record for both men’s and women’s basketball. Her 17 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists probably could have been a lot more if the game was tighter.
Thankfully for the Ducks, who have another contest in less than 24 hours, could rest their All-American guard.
Ruthy Hebard dominated inside the paint and led Oregon (10-1) with 20 points and five rebounds. Satou Sabally added 19 points and eight boards as well.
Air Force was actually in this game after one quarter as the Ducks were having a hard time finding their shot. It was 18-11 Oregon after the first 10 minutes of action. But then the home team turned on the defense and outscored the Falcons 44-16 in the second and third quarter combined.
It was 62-27 as the two teams entered the fourth quarter and Oregon’s focus after that was to not get anyone hurt and to rest the regulars as much as possible.
Starting point guard Maite Cazorla played just 18 minutes, giving Taylor Chavez a season-high 27 minutes of playing time and 6-6 sophomore Lydia Giomi played 19 minutes where she scored a career high eight points and six rebounds.
Today was also the first game of two that head coach Kelly Graves had to sit out due to NCAA violations. He will also sit out tomorrow’s game (Dec. 21) against UC-Irvine. Graves will be back on the sideline Dec. 30 in an exhibition game with Concordia and definitely before the Pac-12 schedule begins Jan. 4 when the Ducks host Washington.
It was School Day and many of the 7,967 inside Matthew Knight Arena were elementary and middle school aged children who got to see the Ducks play in person.
Next up for Oregon is the Anteaters, who just handed Portland State its first loss of the season with a 73-68 win. UC-Irvine won’t be pushovers as the members of the Big West Conference are 9-1. Its only loss came to San Diego State where the Aztecs defeated UCI 78-70 Dec. 7.
The game is scheduled for high noon Dec. 21 and will be streamed live on goducks.com.
~ Don Smalley