Perhaps instead of being a 2-seed in the Spokane Region the Oregon Ducks should have been given the top slot in the bracket, they are surely playing like a 1-seed.

Seattle found this out firsthand as the Ducks easily dispatched the Red Hawks 88-45 in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon will now host 10-seed Minnesota Sunday night with a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line. The Gophers used a fourth quarter rally to defeat Green Bay 89-77.

As for the Ducks, they dominated the WAC tournament champs from the get-go. They were up 10-0 before Seattle scored and held a commanding 25-6 at the end of the first quarter.

In a game where the Ducks could name the score of their choosing, Sabrina Ionescu led the way with her continuing NCAA record 10th triple-double. The sophomore scored 19 points, dished out 11 assists and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Oti Gildon came off the bench to add 16 points and six rebounds.

Ruthy Hebard helped out Gildon on the inside with 12 points and nine boards. With the score out of hand, Hebard didn’t need to do all that much in order to win this game against the smaller Red Hawk team.

Alexis Montgomery led Seattle with 14 points.

The Pac-12 regular season and conference tourney champs had almost two weeks of rest since dispatching Stanford for the conference tournament title in Seattle but didn’t show any sign of rust. Oregon build a 48-16 lead and once had a 42-point lead in the third quarter. The Ducks shot 53 percent from the field (37-of-70) and crushed their opponents 45-26 on the glass.

Oregon is now 30-4 overall and has won 11 straight games. To make it 12 straight, the Ducks will need to beat a very good Golden Gopher team that is 23-8 overall. Minnesota lost to No. 13 Ohio State 90-88 in the Big Ten tourney semifinals.

Kenisha Bell leads Minnesota averaging 20 points a game and Carlie Wagner averages 18 a game. But they don’t have Ionescu or Hebard; players who are playing at an entirely different level for the Ducks at exactly the right time.

   ~ Don Smalley

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