It was a big night on Friday evening at Matthew Knight Arena.
A top-10 showdown between No. 3 Oregon and No. 9 Oregon State has the 12,364 fans in attendance standing for nearly the entire fourth quarters. After both teams traded runs and blows like heavyweight fighters for 40 minutes, the Ducks were the final team standing following the 77-68 victory at Matthew Knight Arena.
"You’ve got to hand it to Oregon State, they never make anything easy,” Oregon head coach Kelly Graves said. “They never beat themselves, and that’s a really good basketball team, so we’re happy with the outcome.”
Sabrina Ionescu was sensational for the Ducks, finishing with a game-high 29 points. While she shot just 12-of-24 from the field, low by her standards, she was efficient with the ball in her hands while dishing out nine assists and grabbing five rebounds.
"I'm still kind of bummed I didn't shoot the ball very well," Ionescu said. "I left a lot of points on the board and I think I should have been able to hit some of those shots — overall, regardless of how many points I scored, I think everyone contributed and won us that game.”
Ionescu wasn’t wrong as Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally combined for 39 points on 15-of-29 from the floor, sitting out for a combined five minutes.
Sabally was the sharpshooter who helped spread the floor for Ionescu and Hebard, shooting 5-for-7 from beyond the arc and really battling on the defensive end. Although she finished with just four rebounds, she tipped the ball to her teammates at least a half dozen times.
With Sabally hot from deep, Hebard was a force down low. She posted a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds, taking advantage down low with her athleticism and strength.
“That’s the way it’s supposed to be… Satou, Ruthy and Sabrina had really nice nights,” Graves said. “We didn’t shoot it particularly well — we were a little below our average in points, but you play Oregon State it’s going to be a low-possession game. Every possession matters more than it does in most games.”
The first quarter was a prelude to the rest of the game as each team traded runs for advantages. Trailing 13-11 with 2:48 left in the opening frame, the Ducks went on a 7-0 run for the 18-13 lead through one.
After Oregon State took a 30-27 lead with 3:40 remaining in the second quarter, Oregon went on another run before the half, taking a 39-35 lead into the break.
Aleah Goodman was part of the reason the Beavers kept it so close in the opening half, finishing with 10 points, including Oregon State’s final five points.
The end of the third quarter is when Oregon seized control once again, finishing it on a 7-2 run as Ionescu hit a step-back three-pointer and a running floater in the lane for the final five points and a 56-46 lead.
Oregon State tried to make the game close in the end as Destiny Slocum’s (12 points in the quarter, team-high 17 overall) jumper with 5:24 remaining cut the Ducks’ deficit to 64-60. But as its done all game long, Oregon responded with a short 7-0 to take a 71-60 lead with just over three minutes to play.
The Beavers then followed suit with a 6-0 run before Ionescu took over, knocking down a three-pointer and one-handed runner to give the Ducks a 75-66 lead with under a minute left.
"Oregon is such a good team, we've got to be better," Oregon State head coach Scott Rueck said. "They made us pay for every mistake. They had so many offensive rebounds, it seemed like every fricking one turned into something positive for them, every single one. That's an area we've got to get better at."
Although she struggled offensively, the play of Oregon point guard Maite Cazorla on the defensive end is where she made a difference. Her effort on the strong and athletic Slocum was vital to the victory, forcing Oregon State’s star into a 6-of-15 shooting performance.
Any adjustments that need to be made must be done quickly as round two of the Civil War will take place Monday night. This time, the teams will meet in Corvallis at Gill Coliseum, where another sellout crowd will be awaiting the 6 p.m. tipoff.
“It's definitely is a little bit sweeter to be able to get that win against a team that's right down the road from us, and then be able to go down there Monday and hopefully have the same result,” Ionescu said.