Photo by James Snook / USA Today
Oregon Basketball

Oregon WBB is Elite

March 30, 2019

Oregon 63

South Dakota State 53

In a Sweet Sixteen matchup on Friday night, the second-seeded Oregon Ducks took on the sixth-seeded South Dakota State Jackrabbits for the right to face off against regional No. 1 seed Mississippi State.

The Ducks and Jackrabbits had met once previously this season, as Oregon traveled to Brookings to beat the Jackrabbits 87-79.

On Friday, it was clear this contest would not be as high-scoring, as both teams struggled to put up points.

For the most part, both teams played good defense, but South Dakota State really struggled to shoot from the floor in the first half, digging itself a hole it couldn't crawl out of.

As I detailed in the game preview, South Dakota State is certainly a team that can score, but it shot just 24% in the first quarter. Oregon’s interior defense was extremely impressive, as Ruthy Hebard finished with two first-quarter blocks.

Offensively, the Ducks were led early by Sabrina Ionescu, who scored 8 straight points, all on either midrange jump shots or drives to the basket. Hebard also got into the action, finishing with 5 points, with three of those coming from the line.

Oregon finished the first period with an 18-12 lead.

The proverbial lid stayed on the rim for both sides in the second quarter, as SDSU shot 18.2% and the Ducks managed a meager 35.3%. Although it didn’t seem like there was any offense, Satou Sabally poured in 9 points, including a three-pointer from the wing.

Although Ionescu didn't score in the second quarter, she added 3 rebounds and recorded 4 assists on Oregon's 6 made baskets.

The Jackrabbits managed just 10 points in the second quarter, going 4-22 from the floor. Sabally picked up her second block of the half, and Hebard played solid defense as well, grabbing another block to push her total to 3.

Oregon allowed the Jackrabbits to shoot from beyond the arc at will, and they were a combined 3-13.

Oregon went into the half with a 31-22 lead.

In a game where defense was dominant, the second half played out just as you would expect. Oregon was led by Hebard, as the junior forward poured in 8 points on 3-4 shooting and corralled 4 rebounds.

Oregon got another 6 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists from Ionescu. The Pac-12 Player of the Year notched a second consecutive double-double assisting Hebard for an easy layup.

South Dakota State’s offense was more of the same, shooting just 21.1% from the floor and scoring just 12 points in the third quarter.

With a trip to the Elite Eight on the line, the Jackrabbits came out firing for the first time all night in the fourth quarter, scoring 19 points on 47% shooting -- their two highest marks of the night.

The Jackrabbits gave it their all to win, cutting the deficit to 10 at times, but Oregon’s early lead was insurmountable.

Oregon played some of the worst basketball of the game during their fourth quarter, but thanks to that lead, the Ducks were able to hold on and win.

In the fourth quarter, Oregon shot just 39% and 1-5 from three. In fact, the long distance shooting woes were a common trait for both teams. The Ducks and Jackrabbits shot a combined 9-44 (20%) from deep.

Hebard once again led the team in scoring for the quarter, tallying 7 points on 2-5 shooting and 3-3 from the free throw line. Hebard finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds, leading the team in both categories.

Oregon will face top-seeded Mississippi State on Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Moda Center for right to join the Final Four in Tampa Bay.

Tags: Basketball
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