BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) — Oregon coach Kelly Graves figured the Ducks would have to fight for a win at mid-major South Dakota State.
“This isn’t a place you want to come play, but I think it makes us better,” Graves said. “They test you, they test you. Nobody that knows basketball would be surprised at that score. There’s not one coach in Division I basketball that would be surprised at that score. These guys are good, and we knew that.”
Satou Sabally scored a season-high 27 points and had six rebounds and No. 7 Oregon used a big second half to beat South Dakota State 87-79 on Wednesday night. Sabrina Ionescu added 26 points and eight rebounds to help the Ducks (8-1) avoid losing their second straight game. The then-No. 3 Ducks lost at Michigan State on Sunday.
Madison Guebert and Myah Selland each scored 21 points for South Dakota State (6-4). Season scoring leader Macy Miller had 14.
“We don’t take this as a moral victory,” Guebert said. “We’re right there, and that’s very frustrating, to know that you’re right there and you’re that close to beating a Top 10 school. We can’t be content with that.”
Down 45-40 at the half, Oregon was 11 for 20 from the field in the third quarter. The Ducks led by seven late in the period, and the Jackrabbits cut it to two with under a minute to play in the game. Ionescu hit a deep 3-pointer with 46 seconds to play to seal it.
Ionescu had 16 second-half points.
“We just stepped it up in that second half and we knew we had to make stops,” Ionescu said. “We got in the locker room and talked about the things we needed to do. We knew that if we could make a run we could keep going from there. My team got me the ball where I was comfortable shooting.”
South Dakota State was up 49-40 in the third, Oregon’s second-largest deficit of the season. From that point, the Ducks outscored the Jackrabbits 25-11 to finish the quarter.
Oregon returns home for six straight games, which includes the start of the Pac-12 schedule. … South Dakota State has faced four ranked teams in its nonconference schedule, beating No. 21 Drake.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Sabally entered the game averaging 14.3 points. She scored Oregon’s first ten points of the game and had hit her scoring average by halftime.
Oregon: Hosts No. 5 Mississippi State on Dec. 18.
South Dakota State: Hosts Savannah State on Friday night.
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