LOS ANGELES (AP)With the spotlight and attention that Sabrina Ionescu commands, sometimes Oregon’s other top players can be overshadowed. But on a night when Ionescu added another milestone to her amazing collegiate career, Ruthy Hebard had one of her best games of the season.
The senior forward had 30 points and 17 rebounds as the third-ranked Ducks defeated No. 7 UCLA 80-66 on Friday night in a matchup of the top two teams in the Pac-12 Conference.
”We knew unless they had someone quickly become eligible they weren’t going to be able to match up with her,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said of Hebard. ”We worked all week on getting the ball to her. She is too big and skilled for them.”
Ionescu had her usual efficient game with 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. She joined former Gonzaga standout Courtney Vandersloot as the only players in NCAA history to have 2,000-plus points and 1,000-plus assists. Both played for Graves, who was at Gonzaga before coming to Oregon.
”I’ve been lucky that for eight years of my career I have had them as point guards. We have a system that allows them to play the way they do,” Graves said. ”They also have had elite talent around them that has made them better.”
Hebard – who is third in the nation in field goal percentage – was 14 of 19 from the field. She had 10 points in the first quarter as the Ducks (23-2, 12-1 Pac-12) led throughout for their 11th straight win and take a two-game lead atop the conference.
Hebard received congratulations from UCLA legend Bill Walton after the game. Walton watched the game from the front row near the Oregon bench.
”We always see him when he comes to Oregon. It’s always fun and an honor to play in front of people who are famous,” said Hebard, who has 51 double-doubles in her career.
Michaela Onyenwere led UCLA (21-3, 10-3) with 23 points and Japreece Dean added 14. The Bruins missed 21 of their 23 3-point attempts.
”I think Oregon is playing the best basketball in the country now. They are really skilled and really talented,” UCLA coach Cori Close said.
Oregon scored the first seven points and was up 22-8 at the end of the first quarter as the Ducks went nine of 14 from the field while the Bruins were two of 17 and missed their first eight 3-point attempts.
The Ducks led 48-28 at halftime and extended their lead to 26 midway through the third quarter before the Bruins started to battle back. Onyenwere scored six during a run of 13 straight points late in the third and early in the fourth.
UCLA got within 74-64 late in the fourth quarter before Oregon scored six of the final eight points.
”I felt as a team we didn’t fight at the beginning. We came out tentative,” Dean said.
Oregon: This is the Ducks’ fifth victory over a Top 10 team this season with the average margin of victory being 17 points. Three of the wins have come on the road.
”Right now we’re the most efficient team in the country. In all those tough games the challenge for us is to be at our best,” Graves said.
UCLA: The Bruins had a 14-game home winning streak snapped. They have won 72 of their last 81 at Pauley Pavilion with three of the losses coming to Oregon.
Oregon: Finishes its weekend in Los Angeles against USC on Sunday.
UCLA: Hosts No. 11 Oregon State on Monday.