Ducks fly past Ole Miss

Published 8:19 pm Sunday, December 17, 2017

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — The crowd’s roar with 3 seconds left in the third quarter reinforced what Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu already knew.

With her 10th rebound in her 44th game as a Duck, she’d just joined an exclusive club.
Ionescu tied an NCAA record with her seventh career triple-double, and No. 9 Oregon beat Ole Miss 90-46 on Sunday.

“Just another day,” she said. “It doesn’t mean too much to me. I’m just happy that we won.
“As long as we’re winning, records don’t really matter. That’s what’s really important to me.”

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Ionescu, a sophomore guard, had 21 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds for her third triple-double this season. She broke the Pac-12 career mark of six by Stanford’s Nicole Powell, a former Oregon assistant under coach Kelly Graves.

Ionescu’s 14 assists tied the school record that she matched three games ago. She came in fourth nationally at eight assists per game and is now up to 8.5.

“Tonight, you could tell there was a little twinkle in her eye right from the get-go,” Graves said of Ionescu. “She had something to prove and went out and did it.”

Ruthy Hebard had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Ducks (9-2), who had all five starters score in double figures. Satou Sabally added 12 points, and Lexi Bando and Maite Cazorla had 10 each.

Barbara Johnson led Ole Miss (9-2) with 11 points, and Alissa Alston had 10. The Rebels’ scoring leader, junior Madinah Muhammad, had only two points, 18 below her average. Muhammad was just 1-of-9 shooting from the field and had two rebounds.

Oregon avenged an 83-67 road loss to Ole Miss last season by dominating inside with a 51-29 margin in rebounds and a 58-18 edge in points in the paint. The Ducks struggled from 3-point range (5-of-23) but shot 38-of-76 for 50 percent overall in the second half of a Mississippi home-and-home series of sorts.

Oregon traveled to face No. 5 Mississippi State four days earlier in Starkville and lost 90-79.
Ionescu played only seven minutes in last year’s loss to the Rebels after breaking her thumb the previous day in practice. That memory served her well as she tied the triple-double mark set by Penn State’s Suzie McConnell in 1988 and matched by Louella Tomlinson of Saint Mary’s in 2011.

“I think that was fuel to the fire there,” Ionescu said, “and I definitely wanted to come out aggressive and hard, and our team did that tonight.

“We came out hard and punched them in the throat from the beginning, and that helped us throughout the whole game.”

The Ducks held Ole Miss to six points in the second quarter and 11 each in the last two periods. The Rebels shot 13-of-53 (24.5 percent), had 17 turnovers and didn’t score a fast-break point.
Graves was particularly pleased coming off the loss at Mississippi State.

“At Mississippi State, defensively we were out of sorts,” he said. “We didn’t play hard, we weren’t physically tough, we weren’t engaged and we didn’t communicate very well.
“Today, we did all of the above.”

Ole Miss’ 9-1 start was its best in 12 years. It has two games remaining before starting Southeastern Conference play at Arkansas on Dec. 31. The Rebels finished 10th in the SEC last year and are picked 13th among 14 teams this season.

The Rebels finish a two-game West Coast swing at Portland State on Tuesday night. Their last game before starting the SEC schedule is Dec. 28 at home against Texas Southern.