With less than one minute to play, Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu received a technical foul after airmailing a three-pointer that wasn’t close. The only problem, she happened to be on the bench as the ball came to her via a pass from Oti Gildon. While two officials found the scenario funny and started laughing — particularly because the Ducks were up by 40 points — one wasn’t having any of it and immediately gave Ionescu a technical foul.
It was the only play that stopped Ionescu and the Ducks as No. 2 Oregon rolled to a 78-40 victory over No. 15 Portland State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Ducks, out of the Portland Region, advanced to face No. 10 Indiana, who held off No. 7 Texas 69-65 in the earlier game, at 6 p.m.
“I’m happy for our team, I’m happy that we’re playing another game,”Oregon head coach Kelly Graves said postgame.
Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard dominated the entire game, each posting double-doubles.
Hebard finished with a game-high 22 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, knocking down 9-of-13 from the field and 4-of-4 from the free throw line. Sabally was equally as impressive, adding 21 points, a game-high 16 rebounds and three steals on 8-of-12 from the floor and 4-of-8 from three-point territory.
“These two in particular had big time games… I just thought they were terrific,” Graves said of Hebard and Sabally. “When Satou plays like that we become a different team… and Ruthy, it was great to see her give us that double-double like she seems to do like clockwork.”
The Ducks finished with 38 points in the paint (compared to nine for Portland State) and 50 rebounds, a +27 advantage.
“Honestly, I just felt it,” Sabally said of her dominance on the boards. “I just really wanted to be 100-percent on the boards and just crash every time because I know it’s really important to our team.”
Portland State played well for much of the first quarter, showing no fear against the immensely talented Oregon team. Ashley Bolston (19 points, 5-of-9 from deep) scored five quick points to tie the game at seven before Hebard’s back-to-back layups put the Ducks up by four.
Desirae Hansen then drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key to cut the Vikings deficit to one, but that was as close as they would get because Oregon closed the quarter on an 11-5 run.
An 11-0 run midway through the second quarter and a 12-0 run to open the third frame was all the Ducks needed the rest of the way, outscoring the Vikings 56-25 following the first 10 minutes of play.
Ionescu finished with a very efficient 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting (2-of-5 from beyond the arc), eight assists and five rebounds — but nothing was more impressive than her three-pointer to beat the shot clock in the third quarter.
“We talked about some of the time we play our best is when we’re having fun and we’re laughing,” Hebard said. “I think we came out focused and when we’re focused, we have fun. It’s a domino effect and we just play great.”
That joy and laughter was never more evident than when Hebard was seen smiling and laughing multiple on the jumbotron during a timeout break — or when Ionescu received the technical and was promptly “beat up” by Sabally and Hebard sitting on either side of her.
Oregon now turns its attention to No. 10 Indiana, who upset Texas earlier in the day. Despite leading at the half, Texas roared back to take the lead in the fourth quarter before the Hoosiers finished strong for the four-point win.
"We didn't come to Oregon just to beat Texas…. there's more to do for this group," Indiana head coach Teri Moren said.