LAS VEGAS — For the second time in a little more than a month, Oregon had no problem handling Texas A&M.
Maite Cazorla scored 26 points, Sabrina Ionescu added 25, and the 10th-ranked Ducks beat the No. 19 Aggies 84-62 on Thursday in the Duel in the Desert.
Oregon won at Texas A&M 83-68 on Nov. 16 in the semifinals of the Preseason Women’s NIT.
Oregon coach Kelly Graves told his players the Aggies would be looking for revenge, and he emphasized attacking the basket from the opening tip. Texas A&M took its only lead at 2-0 before Oregon went on a 10-0 run in less than two minutes, getting seven points from Satou Sabally.
“We were as good as we could’ve been, certainly offensively,” said Graves, whose Ducks hit 14 of 17 (82.4 percent) from the floor in the first quarter to take a 34-17 lead. “We talked about having a quick start. And since we’ve inserted Satou Sabally into the starting lineup, we’ve actually started better, so I think that’s helped. Defensively, we had a little bit to be desired. But offensively everything was clicking. We spaced the floor well, we made shots. We played well, but could even maybe do it a little bit better.”
Ruthy Hebard had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Ducks, who played their third straight SEC opponent after losing at No. 5 Mississippi State and beating Mississippi.
“We just wanted to start hard and play hard and knew what we had to do knowing their personnel,” Cazorla said. “Our chemistry is really awesome. We’re good on and off the court, we know each other, and we knew not to relax because that team could’ve come back on us. We had to play all 40 minutes.”
Oregon (10-2), which outscores its opponents by an average of 27.6 points per game, came into the tournament ranked third in the nation in offense, averaging 89.6 points.
The Ducks, who ranked sixth in the NCAA in field goal shooting at 51.5 percent, made 27 of 50 shots (54 percent), including 12 of 24 from 3-point range.
“Their offensive firepower is incredible. They have a very great post inside and they have a strong outside presence, so that’s hard because you have to pick and choose what you’re gonna do and how you’re gonna guard that defensively,” said Danni Williams, who led the Aggies with 22 points. “When you get behind by 17 points early in the first quarter, it’s tough to come back. But I’m proud of our team. We really fought hard today.”
The Aggies (10-3) did a better job defensively in the second quarter, when they frustrated Oregon on the perimeter by pressuring the ball and forcing the Ducks to commit seven of their eight first-half turnovers.
Oregon made 2 of 11 shots in the second quarter, while the Aggies hit 5 of 11 to cut the lead to 41-31 at halftime.
Texas A&M: The Aggies were ranked No. 18 when suffering their first loss of the season to West Virginia on Dec. 3. They dropped three spots to No. 21. With this loss, A&M doesn’t figure to be in jeopardy of dropping out of the Top 25, considering it lost to a top 10 team.
Oregon: The Ducks returned all five starters from a team that advanced to the program’s first-ever Elite Eight, including Ionescu, the national freshman of the year. The 5-foot-11 sophomore has scored in double figures in seven consecutive games and is averaging 19.8 points in that span. Ionescu has a share of the NCAA record with seven career triple doubles.
Texas A&M hosts SMU on Dec. 28.
Oregon plays Hawaii in Las Vegas on Friday.