Ionescu sets NCAA mark for triple-doubles in Oregon’s win
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — With six turnovers in the first half, Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu wasn’t giving the notion of another triple-double a single thought.
It took a while for it to sink in after the fact, too.
Ionescu set an NCAA record with her eighth career triple-double to lead No. 10 Oregon to a 94-83 victory over Washington on Sunday.
She had 24 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists to help the Ducks (13-2, 2-0 Pac-12) to their fifth consecutive win. She broke the mark in her 48th career game with an assist on Lexi Bando’s 3-pointer with 1:47 to play.
“It’s pretty surreal to be honest,” Ionescu said. “I don’t think I’ve really realized that I just broke it, but I’m just happy that we won and got better.”
Penn State’s Suzie McConnell and Louella Tomlinson of Saint Mary’s shared the mark with Ionescu until Sunday. It was Ionescu’s fourth triple-double in 15 games this season.
“As long as we continue to win, that’s what’s important to me,” she said. “The triple-doubles just come.
“Coach (Kelly Graves) was joking that I almost got a quadruple-double with my (seven) turnovers, so maybe I should have turned it over a little more and set another record.”
Ruthy Hebard added 23 points and 11 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season, and Bando had 20 points.
Amber Melgoza had 23 of her 31 points in the final quarter for the Huskies (6-7, 0-2). Hannah Johnson and Jenna Moser each had 12.
Ionescu, who ranks fifth in the nation in three-point shooting at 51.8 percent, was 6 of 18 beyond the arc and 8 of 23 overall. However, eight of her 14 rebounds came on the offensive end.
“She didn’t shoot it particularly well,” Graves said, “but competitors like her find a way to get it done, and she made the plays late that kind of sealed it.
“I’m honored to be her coach. She’s this way every day in practice, too. She never has an off day in terms of attitude, intensity and hard work.”
Washington overcame a poor start by shooting 27 of 47 (57.4 percent) over the final three quarters, including 11 3-pointers. The Huskies trailed by double digits until Melgoza’s jumper pulled them within nine at 73-64 in the final quarter.
“They smacked us in the mouth the first quarter a little bit,” first-year Washington coach Jody Wynn said, “and then we settled down and played really, really hard.
“I’m just proud of how we played and that we didn’t quit and didn’t lay down, because it’s easy to quit against a team that’s so explosive offensively.
Oregon is off to its best Pac-12 start in eight seasons and gets its first shot at preseason conference favorite and No. 11 UCLA next Sunday on the back end of its road trip to Los Angeles. The Ducks are 2-2 against ranked teams this season, all away from Eugene.
Washington’s post-Kelsey Plum era is off to a rough start after road losses to two ranked Pac-12 teams. The rebuilding Huskies have one starter back from last season’s 29-6 team led by Plum, the national player of the year.
Washington: Hosts Utah on Friday night.
Oregon: Plays at USC on Friday night.
Oregon has spent seven weeks in the top 10 and should climb again with the weekend sweep and No. 9 West Virginia’s 79-58 loss at No. 8 Texas on Sunday.
STAT OF THE GAME
It was the 500th victory for Oregon’s Kelly Graves, whose 24-year coaching career began at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, Washington. Graves is 73-44 in his fourth season at Oregon after 14 years at Gonzaga that included seven NCAA tournament appearances.
Oregon’s Satou Sabally had 13 points and a season-high seven assists in her fifth game since joining the starting lineup. The 6-foot-4 German is the Ducks’ third-leading scorer at 12.5 points per game.
HE SAID IT
Graves insists that Ionsecu’s biggest influence on the Ducks shows before they take the floor. “Any time your best player is also your hardest worker and most intense player, you’ve got a good culture. . She has zero ego. It’s the winning that matters.”