Ionescu has 9th triple-double to lead Oregon women over Utah
By JOHN COON
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) Being a master of all trades on the basketball court has become second nature to Sabrina Ionescu.
The Oregon guard proved it again Sunday with her ninth career triple-double, totaling 19 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in the No. 7 Ducks' 84-68 victory over Utah.
"I decided to do everything that I possibly could in order for us to win," said Ionescu, who is the NCAA career leader in triple-doubles. "This road trip isn't easy, so we needed to get this win. This is a key win for us."
Maite Cazorla scored 21 points and was 5 for 5 from 3-point range, while Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard chipped in 15 points apiece. Oregon (20-3, 9-1 Pac-12) beat the Utes for the sixth straight time.
Daneesha Provo led Utah with 19 points and Tanaeya Boclair added 13. Utah (14-7, 5-5) dropped its fifth consecutive home game in conference play.
Oregon held the Utes without a field goal for the first 6 1/2 minutes and built a 23-4 lead. Cazorla drained a pair of 3-pointers and Hebard added a pair of layups to fuel the fast start for the Ducks.
Handling Oregon's defensive pressure proved to be a major problem for the Utes from the beginning. Utah coughed up seven turnovers in the first quarter alone. The Utes also missed their first seven shots from the field before Megan Huff broke the ice with a layup.
"We got them a little uncomfortable," Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. "We came out and we trapped as often as we could. We thought that maybe their guards were a little vulnerable to some pressure and so we extended our defense a little bit. That got us some easy baskets and easy looks and it just kind of snowballed from there."
Utah finally got its offense going late in the first quarter. The Utes hit six straight shots to finish out the quarter and fuel a 17-2 run that cut Oregon's lead to 25-21 early in the second. Erika Bean punctuated the rally with back-to-back layups.
The Ducks answered with a 10-0 run just before halftime to extend their lead to 41-28. Utah missed 10 of 11 shots and did not score a basket over the final six minutes of the half. Ionescu triggered Oregon's run with a 3-pointer and Sabally finished it off by turning a steal into a layup.
Utah cut the deficit to 61-53 on a layup from Torrie Williams with a minute left in the third quarter. The Ducks pulled away again in the fourth, going up 78-61 with 2:26 remaining on back-to-back baskets from Ionescu and Hebard.
"That first half, it felt like we were underwater or something," Utah coach Lynne Roberts said. "We hung in there and fought until the end, but not our best showing against a really good team."
Oregon: Explosive offense is Oregon's trademark this season, but the Ducks turned to their defense to provide a spark at critical junctures against Utah. Oregon twice held the Utes without a field goal for at least six minutes during the first half. Utah missed its last eight shots of the second quarter.
Utah: The Utes have become progressively more competitive in the Pac-12 over the last three seasons, but they still have some steps to take before joining the conference elite. Oregon's offense had little trouble overwhelming Utah's defense when necessary. The Ducks shot 55 percent from the field, highlighted by 10-of-15 shooting from 3-point range.
REACHING 20 WINS
Last season, Oregon did not reach 20 victories until edging then-No. 11 Washington 70-69 in the Pac-12 Tournament. This time around, the Ducks have reached the 20-win plateau with a month still left in the regular season.
Oregon holds a one-game lead in the Pac-12 standings entering February. The Ducks haven't won a league title since the 1999-00 season, but remain in good shape to end that drought after winning for the 12th time in 13 games.
"It pushes us," Ionescu said. "Every team is coming out to get us. Last year, we flew under the radar and some teams took it easy on us and we were able to come out play our game and not have any pressure. But this year there's the pressure you have to win and you have to continue to advance."
Oregon: Hosts California on Friday in the only meeting between the teams this season. The Ducks split the season series with the Bears a year ago.
Utah: Hosts Colorado on Thursday in the first meeting of the season between the rivals. The Utes have won three of their last four games against the Buffaloes.
Updated January 28, 2018