Ionescu gets 27 to lead No. 3 Oregon women past Saint Mary’s
MORAGA, Calif. (AP) — Sabrina Ionescu picked a good time to deliver her best game of the season.
Oregon’s All-American point guard scored a season-high 27 points, and the No. 3 Ducks beat Saint Mary’s 79-55 on Saturday in the Saint Mary’s Thanksgiving Classic.
Ionescu, a junior who went to high school in nearby Orinda, enjoyed a terrific homecoming weekend. The Ducks (6-0) routed UC Riverside on Friday before cruising by the host Gaels (3-2), and Ionescu was named the tournament’s MVP.
She left 35 tickets for friends and family over the two days, and there were many more on hand wearing Oregon gear.
“It was awesome, just being able to play at home in front of the crowd,” Ionescu said. “I had elementary school teachers that I haven’t talked to since I graduated. Elementary school classmates, so it was just awesome.”
Oregon began the day ranked third in the country in scoring at 95 points per game, and Saint Mary’s at least managed to hold the Ducks below their average.
But the Gaels had no answer for Ionescu, who went 11 for 20 from the floor and had six rebounds and six assists. Satou Sabally added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Ducks, who led 55-42 at the end of three quarters and pulled away in the final period.
Saint Mary’s coach Paul Thomas said Ionescu is one of the best all-around talents he’s coached against.
“Obviously you don’t want her to do it at our expense, but I’m super happy for her,” Thomas said. “I’ve known Sabrina since she was a little girl.”
Megan McKay led Saint Mary’s with 12 points and Sydney Raggio added 11 points. They each had a team-high 10 rebounds.
Ionescu scored 17 to help the Ducks to a 36-26 lead at the break. Oregon held Saint Mary’s to 31 percent shooting (11 for 35) over the first two quarters, which offset an uneven performance from Oregon offensively in the first half.
“I thought in the first half we kind of went through the motions a little bit, and then played too quickly,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “It was kind of uncharacteristic of us. The second half we kind of got back under control.”
Oregon: The Ducks showed they can dominate a game even when their high-octane offense isn’t clicking on all cylinders.
Saint Mary’s: The Gaels showed they can play respectably against a national power, but they simply weren’t hitting enough shots from the perimeter to put pressure on Oregon.
Oregon finished the first quarter on a 12-2 run and led 24-12, with Ionescu and Taylor Chavez each hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to highlight the sequence. The Ducks controlled the game from there.
Saint Mary’s was trying to climb back in the game in the third quarter when Ionescu made a steal in the backcourt and converted a layup to halt the Gaels’ momentum.
HE SAID IT
Graves: “If we didn’t have Sabrina playing the way she did, we would have been in a world of hurt by halftime.”
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Saint Mary’s had a lot of open looks from beyond the arc, but the Gaels hit just 5 of 24 3-point attempts (20.8 percent).
Oregon is off until a Dec. 2 home game against Long Beach State.
Saint Mary’s plays on the road Thursday at UC Santa Barbara.