Entering the fourth quarter of Sunday afternoon's showdown with UCLA, Oregon found itself in a tighter game than expected. Considering the Ducks were coming off back-to-back 40-point wins, their lead was closer than usual.
How did the No. 5 team in the nation respond — with a 15-2 run to open the fourth quarter. After the scoring burst, Oregon cruised to a 72-52 win over the Bruins in Pauley Pavilion.
Ruthy Hebard continued her dominant play of late with 19 points and 18 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive end. She finished 7-of-12 from the field and went 5-for-6 from the free throw line.
Satou Sabally added 19 points, knocking down 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, with 11 rebounds.
UCLA kept the game close in the opening quarter, but the Ducks used a 10-2 run to take a 19-11 lead after one. Once again, the Bruins kept fighting, cutting the deficit to six in the second quarter but Oregon responded with a 9-2 run to close the half for the 32-21 lead.
Entering the game, the Ducks were among the top offensive teams in the nation, ranking in the top-five of most major categories. But if questions remained, they came on the defensive end.
After holding USC to 53 points and 29.1-percent shooting from the field on Friday night, the Ducks put together another dominant performance on Sunday. Oregon limited the Bruins to 35-percent (21-for-60) from the field. More impressively, the Ducks dominated the glass, out-rebounding UCLA 47-29.
"Defense has been the area we've lacked some tenacity and toughness," Oregon head coach Kelly Graves said. "We're so good offensively sometimes we think it's going to be just as easy on the defensive end. That's what we found out on this trip, we can defend."
It was a rare off night for Oregon star Sabrina Ionescu. Ionescu, who entered the game as one of the front runners for the national player of the year, finished the game with 14 points, six assists and five rebounds. She shot 5-of-19 from the field and 2-of-8 from three-point territory.
Where Ionescu struggled, her backcourt running mate Maite Cazorla picked up the slack. Cazorla finished with 13 points, knocking down 5-of-7 from the field and 3-for-4 from deep.
The Ducks return home to face No. 19 Arizona State on Friday, January 18 at 6 p.m.