EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Sabrina Ionescu knew in the back of her mind that she was one assist away from breaking Gary Payton’s Pac-12 record for career assists.
But it didn’t occur to her that she’d topped it when she passed to Ruthy Hebard on Oregon’s first basket against Oregon State on Friday night.
Ionescu finished with 23 points and nine assists, and the No. 4 Ducks held off the Beavers’ late rally for a 76-64 victory in the first of consecutive meetings between the in-state rivals.
Payton had 938 assists in his career at Oregon State.
“I knew that I was (close), I saw something about it last game, but I completely forgot about it,” Ionescu said. “I mean, it’s awesome, it’s not really as much me as it is my teammates and the teammates I’ve had in the past, who have gotten in the right position and put me in position to help them and help our team win.”
Satou Sabally added 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Ducks (16-2, 6-1), who have won four straight and improved to 11-0 at home.
Freshman Taylor Jones had 21 points for Oregon State (16-3, 4-3), which has lost three of its last four games.
The rivalry shifts to Corvallis for a rematch on Sunday. Ionescu has never won on Oregon State’s floor.
“That’s where my focus is right now. I’m already over this one and ready to get that one on Sunday,” she said. “Probably going to watch film tonight and start dialing in and figuring out what we can do better and what we need to improve on to get the win on Sunday.”
The Beavers trailed by as many as 21 points, but an 11-0 run got them within 67-57 with 5:42 left. After Ionescu’s jumper, Destiny Slocum made her fourth 3-pointer and Aleah Goodman added a layup to narrow it to 69-62.
Sabally’s 3-pointer got Oregon back to a double-digit lead with 3:05 left and Oregon State ultimately couldn’t catch up. Beavers coach Scott Rueck said Sabally’s 3 sealed the game.
“I’m pleased with the way we battled back. we learned some things about ourselves,” Rueck said. “The team hung in there through the adversity and made a game of it and gave ourselves a chance. A small chance, but a chance.”
Ionescu, Oregon’s all-time scoring leader, fell just shy of her fifth straight double-double. She has 22 career triple-doubles, an NCAA record for men and women, including four this season.
Slocum made back-to-back 3-pointers and Oregon State jumped out to an early 10-2 lead, but the Ducks were able to climb back before the first quarter was over. Hebard’s basket pulled Oregon to within 14-12 and Sabally’s free throws tied it.
Ionescu drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer that capped an 11-2 run and gave Oregon a 25-18 lead going into the second quarter. Taylor Chavez’s 3 put Oregon up 39-23 as turnovers plagued the Beavers.
The Ducks pushed the lead to as many as 19 points and led 49-25 at the break. Jones made her first eight field goals and led all scorers with 17 points at halftime.
“I thought the second half we did a much better job on Jones,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “We were switching in the first half, we were doing this and we were doing that, and none of it involved stopping her.”
Hebard’s layup stretched Oregon’s lead to 51-31 in the third quarter. Ionescu hit another buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the quarter to give the Ducks a 62-46 lead heading into the final period.
Slocum finished with 18 points for Oregon State.
“I think the second quarter probably wasn’t the best for us,” Slocum said. “We gave ourselves a fighting chance, didn’t give up in the third and fourth quarter. We have to do that the entire game, that one quarter just got us.”
Rueck shook up his starting lineup for the first time this season, starting Kat Tudor and moving Goodman to the bench.
Oregon State had won 15 of the last 17 in the rivalry. The teams split the series last year with home team wins.
It was just the second time the rivals met while both ranked in the top 10.
Oregon State: Despite a loss to Stanford last weekend, the Beavers moved up a spot in the AP Top 25 this week. … Oregon State has outrebounded its opponent in every game this season, but they finished even with the Ducks with 33. Mikayla Pivec leads the Pac-12 with an average of 9.6 rebounds, and she has scored in double figures in all of the team’s games this season. But the Ducks held her to nine points and five rebounds.
Oregon: Going into the game, Oregon was outscoring opponents by a stunning average of 43.2 points a game at home this season. … Former NFL star and Oregon quarterback Dan Fouts was at the game, as was Gov. Kate Brown and a handful of WNBA coaches and league commissioner Cathy Engelbert. … The Ducks’ two losses this season came on the road, to Louisville at the Paradise Jam and at Arizona State.
SELLOUTS: Both of this season’s rivalry games were sold out. Attendance at Matthew Knight Arena on Friday night was 12,364.
“This is a cool deal, this is a cool deal. And I thought we gave everybody a great show tonight,” Graves said. “I think it’s great for women’s athletics, it’s great for the University of Oregon, Oregon State, it’s great for college basketball. This was an awesome night. This may not be be duplicated anywhere in the country.”
The teams meet again on Sunday in Corvallis.
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