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No. 2 seed Oregon cruises 78-40 over No. 15 Portland St

March 23, 2019

Satou Sabally had 21 points and a career-high 16 rebounds to help second-seeded Oregon to an easy 78-40 victory over No. 15 seed Portland State on Friday night in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Ducks guard Sabrina Ionescu put the home crowd at Matthew Knight Arena on its feet with a stunning 3-pointer at the start of the second half and finished with 12 points and eight assists for the Ducks (30-4). Ruth Hebard had 22 points and 12 rebounds.

Ashley Bolston had 19 points for the Vikings (25-8), making their first tournament appearance since 2010.

Oregon advances to play 10th-seeded Indiana (21-10) on Sunday. The Hoosiers won Friday’s earlier game over No. 7 seed Texas 69-65.

“We didn’t come to Oregon just to beat Texas. There’s more to do for this group,” Indiana coach Teri Moren vowed.

Oregon was coming off a 64-57 loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 tournament championship game. But that was back on March 10, and the Ducks had time to recover from some nagging injuries that caught up with them in Las Vegas.

The Vikings were coming off a thrilling 61-59 victory over Eastern Washington in the Big Sky tournament last Friday that earned them the automatic bid. Desirae Hansen drained a 12-foot jumper with 3.1 seconds remaining for the win. Portland State knocked top-seeded Idaho out in the semifinals.

The Vikings’ 25 wins this season were the most for the program since joining the Big Sky for the 1996-97 season. Portland State’s only other trip to the NCAA Tournament was in 2010.

Oregon went to the Elite Eight for the second straight year last season but fell to eventual champion Notre Dame. Oregon is 6-2 in NCAA Tournament games under coach Kelly Graves.

Ionescu, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, went into Friday’s game averaging 18 points, 7.2 assists and seven rebounds a game. The junior is the NCAA career leader among men and women with 17 triple-doubles, including seven this season.

Portland State was surprisingly resilient at the start, staying within five points for much of the first quarter until the Ducks began to pull away.

Hebard’s layup gave Oregon a 26-15 lead early in the second quarter as the Ducks simply overpowered the Vikings.

Sabally collected 14 points and six rebounds in the first half as Oregon built a 43-23 lead by the break. Hebard wasn’t far off with 14 points and five rebounds.

With those two finding ways to score, Ionescu had a quieter role. But she drew an ovation early in the third quarter when she drained a 3-pointer from some 35 feet out to beat the shot clock, then slipped and fell running back at midcourt. She was laughing as teammates helped her up.

It was not the only light moment: Late in the game Ionescu caught a ball that went out of bounds and lofted it up toward the basket from the bench. While she was given a technical, her teammates on the bench got a good laugh.

The winner of Sunday’s game will head north for the round of 16 in Portland, Oregon.

BIG PICTURE

Portland State: Montana is the only school to win a game in the NCAA Tournament, with three total victories. ... The Vikings had a four-game winning streak going into Friday night’s game. ... Bolston was the Big Sky tournament MVP.

Oregon: Rumors continue to swirl whether Ionescu will skip her senior season to turn professional at the end of this season. ... Graves agreed this week to a contract extension with the Ducks that keeps him in Eugene through the 2025-26 season. The three-year, $2.85 million extension is pending approval by Oregon’s Board of Trustees.

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