Ionescu has a triple-double as Ducks dunk Seattle
EUGENE — Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu joked that she was going to take her time getting that last rebound for another triple-double.
Ionescu had 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for her 10th career triple-double, and second-seeded Oregon defeated No. 15 seed Seattle 88-45 in the NCAA Tournament on Friday.
Ionescu, who holds the NCAA record for triple-doubles, becomes the 15th woman to get one in the NCAA Tournament. The last was Iowa’s Samantha Logic in 2015.
She was asked afterward if she heard the groan from the student section when another Duck got her rebound early in the fourth quarter.
“It was more like this: ‘Would you just get one so we can get this over with?’” Coach Kelly Graves interjected.
Ionescu laughed: “And then I said, ‘Eh, maybe I’ll just wait it out so I can play some more.’”
After securing the triple-double, Ionescu went to the bench with 8:02 left in the game to a standing ovation from the crowd at Matthew Knight Arena.
Graves said he left Ionescu in the game even after he’d pulled the other starters because she was so close — no disrespect to Seattle.
“She kind of earned that,” Graves said. “And she still only played 29 minutes, so I’ll take that anytime. She wouldn’t want me to leave her in just to do that, but since it was so close, why not?”
The Ducks, winners of 10 straight, advance to play No. 10 seed Minnesota in the Spokane Region. The Golden Gophers defeated No. 7 Green Bay 89-77 in the early game.
Alexis Montgomery had 14 points for Seattle, which was making its first-ever tournament appearance.
Oregon finished the regular season 30-4 overall and 16-2 in the Pac-12. In addition to the league’s regular-season title, the Ducks also won the conference tournament.
Oregon’s seeding is the highest in team history, as are the 30 wins. The conference championship was also a first.
Oregon made history last season, too, going to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history. The Ducks finished that season 23-14 overall and lost to Stanford in a Pac-12 tournament semifinal game. But after earning an at-large spot in the tournament, Oregon swept through seventh-seeded Temple, No. 2 Duke and No. 3 Maryland before getting bumped by top-seeded UConn.
The Redhawks finished 18-14 overall this season but took the Western Athletic Conference Tournament with a 57-54 victory over Cal State Bakersfield in the title game.
Ionescu, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year last season, earned league Player of the Year honors. She had five triple-doubles in the regular season after four as a freshman.
Oregon jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Montgomery broke through for the Redhawks on a long jumper with 4:50 left in the first quarter, but the Ducks were simply overwhelming and led 25-6 by the end of the opening quarter. Ionescu led all scorers with nine points and four rebounds.
Lexi Bando’s 3-pointer gave Oregon a 30-10 lead. Aina Ayuso finished the half with a crossover and layup — and added a free throw before a pair of Seattle free throws to make it 48-16 at the break.
Ionescu hit a 3-pointer to open the second half.
Oti Gildon finished with 16 points for Oregon, while Ruthy Hebard added 12 along with nine rebounds before sitting out the fourth.
Seattle coach Suzi Barcomb said she thinks Oregon is a Final Four team.
“I think Oregon played to their potential. I think we were a little bit nervous about being at the dance for the first time in school history,” Barcomb said. “That was pretty evident in the first quarter when I think the rim was about the size of a penny for us, and it looked to be a huge peach basket for Oregon.”
Seattle: Seattle’s WAC championship was its first in its second season under Barcomb. ... Montgomery grew up in Beaverton, Oregon, just west of Portland. She led the Redhawks in the regular season with an average of 18.9 points.
Oregon: Ionescu finished the first half with 14 points and was 6-for-6 from the free throw line. ... Oregon played all of its available players in the opening half. ... Ayuso, a freshman, had another ankle-breaking crossover in the Pac-12 tournament against Colorado that went viral.
There have been 16 overall triple-doubles in NCAA Tournament history. Nicole Powell had two for Stanford in 2002.
The winner on Sunday moves on to Spokane, Washington, to face the winner that comes out of Columbus, Ohio. Sixth-seeded LSU (19-9) plays No. 11 Central Michigan (28-4) on Saturday before third-seeded Ohio State (27-6) plays No. 14 George Washington (19-13).
Oregon will play Minnesota on Sunday night.