No. 8 Oregon beats Arizona State 57-44 for rare win in Tempe
By JOHN MARSHALL
Feb. 24, 2018
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Oregon ended one long streak with a dominating third quarter. Another milestone is now just within reach.
Sabrina Ionescu scored 16 points and No. 8 Oregon moved a step closer to its first Pac-12 title in 18 years, beating Arizona State 57-44 Friday night to end a 15-game losing streak in Tempe.
"We were all just screaming in the locker room," Oregon's Lexi Bando said. "It is the best feeling, especially knowing what the program had done the past four years."
A year after winning 24 games, Oregon (26-4, 15-2 Pac-12) has broken the school record for wins in a season and matched the mark for conference wins, set in 1998-99. The Ducks had not beaten Arizona State on the road since 2000.
Oregon has won five straight, nine of 10 and needs only to beat struggling Arizona on Sunday to win its first Pac-12 title since 1999-2000.
"We still have one more game to play, so we're not celebrating too much yet," said Ionescu, who finished with eight assists, five rebounds and two steals. "It's kind of a relief that if it doesn't go well, at least we share it with someone, which is cool because that hasn't been done in a really long time."
Oregon won the first meeting by shutting down Arizona State in the third quarter. The Ducks took control of the rematch with similar blueprint.
Trailing by one at halftime, Oregon hounded the Sun Devils (19-10, 10-7) into one missed shot after another to build an 11-point lead. Arizona State scored eight points in the quarter and went 4 for 17 from the floor.
"They're not connected enough on offense," Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne said. "That's team offense today at all in the second half, especially the third quarter. We're better than that."
Oregon took a big step toward its first Pac-12 title in 18 years by knocking off then-No. 10 UCLA last week, giving the Ducks a one-game lead over No. 16 Stanford.
A sweep of the Arizona schools would clinch it.
The Ducks beat Arizona State, Jan. 14 in Eugene, 74-64 after holding the Sun Devils to five third-quarter points.
The Sun Devils had trouble getting shots to fall against Oregon's out of the gate in the rematch, but also has the Pac-12's top defense.
The Ducks missed 11 of their first 15 shots and went 1 for 7 from the 3-point arc in the first half. Oregon was 11 for 30 in the opening 16 minutes.
Arizona State shot 10 of 28 and led 25-24.
Oregon had an easier time solving Arizona State's defense in the third quarter, hitting seven of nine shots and going on an 11-0 run lead 40-31.
The Sun Devils couldn't find the same seams in Oregon's defense to start the third quarter, going scoreless for nearly 7 minutes.
Oregon kept the cushion in double digits most of the fourth quarter to end its long desert drought.
"Our games against top-10 teams, we've consistently had one quarter where we've let up," Turner Thorne said. "Every other quarter we've outplayed them or played them even. We talked about that before the game, four quarters, 40 minutes. I don't have an explanation for it."
Oregon's last win in Tempe came the same season it won its last conference championship. The Ducks are in prime position to do it again after sweeping the Sun Devils.
Another poor third quarter against the Ducks doomed Arizona State, all but ending the fifth-place Sun Devils' bid for a first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament.
Arizona State has face top 25 teams multiple times this season, so the Sun Devils are used to playing high-level teams. This was the first top-10 the Sun Devils faced at home and they might have been a little too amped for it at times.
"We were so excited and I'm sure some of the excitement might have caused us to maybe try a little too hard at times," Turner Thorne said. "I'm sure it did because we knew we could beat them. They flat out knew they could beat this team. They just had to stop shooting themselves in the foot."
Oregon plays at Arizona on Sunday.
Arizona State hosts No. 11 Oregon State on Sunday.