How Oregon won: It was a beautiful, sunny day here in Seattle, but Oregon found a way to make it rain. Day one for the No. 1 tournament seeded Oregon Ducks and Oregon showed no signs of jitters or nerves and felt like it was back home in Eugene, OR. Senior leader Lexi Bando and freshman Satou Sabally lead the Ducks with a combined 11-of-16 from three-point range. While sophomore Sabrina Ionescu dished out a tournament single-game record 13 assists. The nationally ranked No. 6 Oregon Ducks picked up where they left off the regular season at the top with a Pac-12 quarterfinals 84-47 win over the Colorado Buffaloes in Seattle, WA.
"Sometimes in this first game there might be some tournament jitters, but I don't think we had it," said Oregon coach Kelly Graves. "I was just impressed with how our energy on both ends of the floor. Defensively, and offensively we spread the floor, we were shooting it well, the right people were getting the shots, it was just a really good game. I told them after the game, 'You were inspiring and I was a really proud coach.'"
A few stats to take note of: 16 fast break points for Oregon, showing that the Ducks want to be in control of the tempo and push the ball. The second, winning the rebound battle 40 to 24.
Sabally, just a freshman and playing in her first post-season tournament, didn't show signs of being a freshman. She was confident shooting the ball and knowing when to give it up to one of her teammates.
"I think our coaches just told us enough that we have to be ready," Sabally said following the game. "I think that's what it was, we were just ready to play and I was dialed in and my teammates were just all dialed in. It made it easier."
What it means: The Ducks now move into the Pac-12 tournament semi-finals and await the winner of the No. 4 UCLA Bruins vs. the No. 5 California Golden Bears.
The Ducks' biggest weakness, according to Graves, has been eastablishing a big lead but letting teams back in, so to speak. Oregon gave up three quick three-pointers to the Buffs which called for a Graves timeout to regroup his team. From that point on, the Ducks rolled into halftime with a 45-18 lead. The Ducks held the Buffs to just 15 points in the third quarter and put of 30 themselves. Graves sent in the bench to pick up some minutes and experience and giving his starters a quarter and a half's rest in preparation for tomorrow's semifinals.
Ionescu said, "We talked about it in the locker room. We knew they were going to come out and they were going to play hard the rest of the game. We knew Kennedy (Leonard) and the rest of their guards were going to continue to take it to us but we knew that we had to continue to play well and grow as a team. You never know what happens in March so we did not want to let them get back into the game. We wanted to continue to get better every possession and every play. We let our bench come in and contribute and they played good minutes, so it was nice to see."
High flying Ducks: Oregon's starting five showed up and ready to play, even at the early 11:30 AM hour. Alongside of the hot shooting from Bando and Sabally, Ionescu was two rebounds short of another triple-double finishing with 10 points, 13 assists, and eight rebounds. Sophomore Ruthy Hebard also put together a nice game and finished with a double-double 11 points and 11 rebounds. Junior guard Maite Cazorla also put up nine points on 4-of-5 from the field.
Foul play: Hebard finished with three fouls.
Up next: The Ducks await the winner of UCLA vs. California and will play at 6 PM (PT) tomorrow evening at Key Arena in Seattle, WA.