Oregon flipped the switch on offense — at Washington’s expense.
And the newest Ducks starter, sophomore Erin Boley, was right in the middle of it.
The transfer from Notre Dame scored a career-high 28 points and Sabrina Ionescu had 20 points and 10 assists to help No. 5 Oregon outlast Washington 84-71 on Friday night.
“It was just coming to (Boley) and our kids are smart enough to feed the hot hand,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said, “and she hit a couple late, too, which really helped. That’s what she can give you. I loved our composure and toughness down the stretch, which is great.”
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Satou Sabally added 19 points and 12 rebounds as the Ducks (12-1, 1-0) opened defense of their Pac-12 title with their fifth consecutive victory. Ruthy Hebard had 11 points despite missing her first seven shots and 11 rebounds.
After the Huskies (7-7, 0-2) pulled within one point in the fourth quarter, Oregon finished on an 18-6 run. Sabally’s corner 3-pointer off Ionescu’s assist put the Ducks up 80-69 with 45 seconds left.
Boley’s last 3-pointer came during an 8-0 spurt in the fourth quarter. She was 10 of 14 overall and 8 of 12 from the arc.
“Erin Boley had a phenomenal game,” Washington coach Jody Wynn said. “It’s tough to stop such a great offense, but overall I was really proud of our toughness, our grit. Everyone contributed in some way, even if it was just cutting hard. That’s our identity and we need to get that back.”
Alexis Griggsby led Washington with a career-high 26 points off the bench, and Amber Melgoza had 23.
The Huskies led by three early in the third quarter when Oregon went on a 17-0 run to go up 55-41. Washington then outscored the Ducks 24-10 over the next 12 minutes to trail 66-65.
Boley had 19 points in the first quarter on 7-for-8 shooting, including five 3-pointers, as Oregon raced to a 23-6 lead after eight minutes.
“I attribute that to being surrounded by a lot of great players who are able to get me the ball,” Boley said, “and I’m open because they have to take away our other great scorers.”
However, the Huskies came right back with an 18-0 run behind Alexis Griggsby to go ahead 24-23 for their first lead.
Griggsby, whose previous high was 12 points as a freshman, had 17 in the second quarter for the Huskies and 21 at the half. Her fifth 3-pointer cut the Ducks’ halftime lead to 38-37.
“She got hot from 3 and it’s nice when you see the ball go through the net,” Wynn said. “It gives everybody confidence and then they just started believing that we can hang.”
Washington averted what looked to be a road blowout behind Griggsby’s early scoring burst and Melgoza’s strong finish. The Huskies will need a similar gritty performance to hang with second ranked opponent in Oregon State.
Oregon got a good look at what life as the Pac-12 favorite will be like to start the 18-game conference grind. The Ducks came in as the nation’s best shooting team at 53.2 percent but hit just 30 of 71 (42.3 percent), including 14 of a season-high 37 attempts from 3-point range.
Oregon figures to rise at least one spot after No. 4 Maryland’s loss to Rutgers on Monday, though there’s almost no chance top-ranked UConn will fall past the Ducks after falling Thursday night to No. 8 Baylor. Oregon has been as high as a program-best No. 3 this season.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
The Ducks had their worst shooting night since the second game of the season at 42.3 percent, and their 14-7 edge in offensive rebounds — led by Sabally’s six — resulted in only 13 second-chance points to Washington’s 15.
HE SAID IT
Graves dismissed Oregon’s poor shooting as something that happens to good teams, and he pointed to UConn’s loss as evidence. “Some nights you have that,” he said. “UConn had it last night, its worst shooting performance in 20 years and they got beat. We just weren’t that sharp.”
Washington: At No. 11 Oregon State on Sunday.
Oregon: Hosts Washington State on Sunday.