It hasn’t been the start to her junior season Ruthy Hebard was expecting. After being named the national Power Forward of the year last season, Hebard had struggled for much of the nonconference portion of the schedule.
After a so-so performance in Oregon’s conference opener against Washington two nights ago, Hebard knew she was due for a big game.
That big game came on Sunday as she finished with a career-high 34 points in leading No. 5 Oregon to a 98-58 over visiting Washington State. Hebard, who added nine rebounds, went 16-for-21 from the field but just 2-for-10 from the free throw line.
Sabrina Ionescu continued her tear of a junior season, picking up her 15th career triple-double. She finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, sealing the deal with more than eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. Ionescu is now one assists shy of breaking Oregon’s career assists record.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Ducks (13-1, 2-0 Pac-12) as Washington State (6-8, 1-2 Pac-12) hung tough in the first quarter, only leading by eight, 25-17 after one. It could’ve been closer if the Cougars would’ve taken advantage of Oregon’s lapses on the defensive end.
To regain control, Oregon relentlessly attacked the boards on the second quarter, particularly the offensive glass. Thanks to 10 offensive rebounds by the Ducks, Hebard and Satou Sabally feasted in the paint as Oregon’s lead grew to 49-29 at the break.
Oregon continued to dominate in the paint and on the glass the rest of the game, outscoring the Cougars 62-30 down low and outrebounding them 45-26, including an 18-9 advantage on the offensive end.
The Ducks also settled down defensively following the first quarter when they allowed Washington State to shoot 43.8-percent (7-for-16) from the field. Oregon locked down the rest of the game, limiting the Cougars to 36.6-percent (15-of-41).
Sabally had a good showing for Oregon, finishing with 25 points (9-for-19 from the field, 2-for-5 from beyond the arc), seven rebounds and three assists. Erin Boley chipped in 12 points on 3-of-7 shooting from deep.
Oregon next travels to southern California to face USC on Friday. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. and will air on the Pac-12 Network.