No. 3 Oregon rolls past UC Riverside 94-44
MORAGA, Calif. (AP) — Sabrina Ionescu’s homecoming is off to a terrific start.
Ionescu had 14 points, six rebounds and six assists, and No. 3 Oregon coasted to a 94-44 victory over UC Riverside on Friday in the opener of the Saint Mary’s Thanksgiving Classic.
Ionescu attended Miramonte High School in nearby Orinda, less than 10 minutes from the Saint Mary’s campus. She hadn’t played a game in the area since high school.
“I’m so excited, I had so much family and friends that came out to watch me,” she said. “It’s just been awesome.”
Ruthy Hebard scored 19 points for Oregon, and Satou Sabally had 17.
The Ducks (5-0) led 52-18 at halftime on their way to another lopsided win. They entered with a 33-point average margin of victory, their closest game being a two-point victory over then-No. 18 Syracuse on Nov. 10.
Ionescu played a prominent role in the fast start with 11 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers.
“We wanted to get better defensively and we did,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “Some of the little things, we talked better, we scrambled better, we dominated the boards. I actually was pleased with the effort.”
Hebard went 8 for 9 from the field while playing just 18 minutes. Most of Oregon’s starters were out by the fourth quarter.
UC Riverside (2-4) was led by Lauryn Pointer’s nine points. The Highlanders had trouble with the Ducks’ pressure defense in the first half, committing nine turnovers, and shot just 35 percent (8 for 23) from the floor over the first two quarters.
“Maybe that’s one of the things we can take away from this game,” UC Riverside coach John Margaritis said. “When you find out quickly that there’s probably very little chance that you can win, can you stay focused on what you’re trying to do rather than get distracted thinking that there’s no opportunity here.”
Oregon: The Ducks did a nice job maintaining their edge and taking care of business despite another no-doubter victory.
UC Riverside: The Highlanders are trying to get ready for Big West play, but are taking their lumps with a challenging nonconference schedule that also included road games at Southern California, BYU and Oklahoma State.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Oregon outscored UC Riverside 40-18 in the paint, consistently finding the open player for easy shots underneath the basket.
Oregon: Graves is enjoying a homecoming as well, having coached Saint Mary’s from 1997-2000.
UC Riverside: The Highlanders had won two in a row. ... UC Riverside entered the game ranked fifth in the country in blocked shots with 32, but had just one Friday.
Oregon plays its second game in the Thanksgiving Classic on Saturday against tournament host Saint Mary’s.
UC Riverside plays Saturday against Milwaukee, which arrived in Moraga having dropped three of its first four.