EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Oregon was determined to finish the regular season strongly.
So with Washington within two points of the third-ranked Ducks in the second quarter, it was only motivation for Oregon, and the Ducks took over from there for a 92-56 thrashing of the Huskies.
“We were challenged and answered the challenge,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “We put it on ’em .”
Ruthy Hebard led the Ducks (28-2, 17-1 Pac-12) with 24 points and Satou Sabally had 20. Three other Ducks finished in double figures: reserve Taylor Chavez with 14 points, Sabrina Ionescu with 13 points and 11 assists and Minyon Moore with 11 points and six assists.
Seniors Hebard, Ionescu and Moore left the game with 4:27 remaining to a loud ovation along with Sabally, who was also honored on Senior Day since she has declared for the WNBA draft.
Graves said it wasn’t as emotional as the typical Senior Day.
“It would be a little bit tougher if i knew this was truly their last game here,” Graves said, given the possibility of Oregon hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
Still, he took time to reflect on the contributions of the four players leaving the Ducks after this season.
“This is a group that left quite a legacy,” Graves said. “It’ll be tough to recover. … We’ll miss them but I think the future is really, really bright.”
Alexis Griggsby and Mai-Loni Henson led the Huskies (13-16, 5-13) with 11 points each. Amber Melgoza, Washington’s leading scorer entering the game with an average of 17 points, was held to 10 points, shooting 3 of 13 from the field.
The Pac-12 champions outscored Washington 27-6 in the second quarter to break away from a one-point lead and all but put away Oregon’s 16th consecutive victory with half the game left to play. Oregon is unbeaten in 15 home games this season, with at least one more seemingly assured.
Unlike most of Oregon’s recent opponents, Washington stayed with the Ducks in the first quarter. After falling behind 7-0, the Huskies fought back to take a 14-12 lead on a 3-pointer by T.T. Watkins. Oregon quickly regained the lead and was up 19-18 after one quarter on Ionescu’s pair of free throws with 3.4 seconds left. That was mitigated by Melgoza hitting one of two free throws after an intentional foul call on Ionescu.
The Huskies were still within 24-22 when the Ducks turned the game into their latest lopsided victory, finishing the half on a 22-2 run over the final 7:37 to lead 46-24 at halftime. Washington didn’t score over the final 6:29 of the second quarter, the offense stymied by five turnovers and seven missed field goal attempts.
“What I’ve seen from this team a lot when they’re challenged,” Graves said.
Oregon’s defense ended up forcing 22 turnovers by the Huskies, who also shot 37% from the field.
Washington was only 3 of 15 from the field in that second quarter, leaving the Huskies at 27% in the first half. The Ducks shot 58% (10 of 17) in the second quarter to finish the half at 47%.
Oregon’s lead grew to 74-40 after three quarters as the Ducks shot 49% from the field in the game, scoring the most points this season against the Huskies and exceeding Oregon’s NCAA-leading average of 85.8 points.
“We’re definitely riding the crest of a big wave,” Graves said. “We’re playing well, we’re healthy, we’re happy, we’re hungry still.”
Washington: While 12 of Washington’s previous 17 conference games had been decided by single digits, including three in overtime, the loss to Oregon was the widest margin of defeat this season.
Oregon: The Ducks ended the regular season on a 16-game winning streak. The 17 league victories are a record for Oregon.
Washington: Plays Utah in the opening round of the Pac-12 tournament on Thursday.
Oregon: Plays either Utah or Washington on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament.