Nothing much fazes Satou Sabally and No. 5 Oregon. Not when they’re blowing out opponents by 20 or 40 points.
Except when Kobe Bryant stops by their locker room.
The Los Angeles Lakers legend visited the Ducks on Friday night when they beat Southern California by 40 points. Two days later, Sabally and Ruthy Hebard were still dazzled.
“I was so starstruck I don’t remember,” a flustered Hebard said Sunday after Oregon routed UCLA 72-52 for its eighth straight victory. “We were all crazy.”
Sabally, an admitted Bryant fan, had a bit more clarity.
“It was one of the best days of my life,” she said, smiling. “He complimented my game.”
Hebard had 19 points and a career-high 18 rebounds and Sabally added 19 points on Sunday.
Hebard’s double-double was her fourth in six career games against the Bruins (9-8, 2-3 Pac-12), who dropped their fifth in a row to the Ducks (15-1, 4-0) in front of a noisy crowd of 8,036 at Pauley Pavilion.
Oregon never trailed and extended its lead to 28 points in a dominant fourth quarter. The Ducks opened the quarter on a 15-2 run, capped by Maite Cazorla’s consecutive 3-pointers that made it 72-44. The Bruins scored the game’s final eight points.
UCLA got no closer than 10 points in the third on the way to dropping its third in a row.
Michaela Onyenware led the Bruins with 13 points, under her leading average of 16.8. She was held to three field goals and two free throws in the second half. Japreece Dean added 11 points.
“I didn’t think we ever got in an offensive rhythm,” Bruins coach Cori Close said. “Offensivley, they’re a harder match for us. They’re so long they can contest and make you think, ‘Can I get this shot off?'”
Sabally had 11 rebounds — one off her career high — to help the Ducks control the boards, 47-29. They owned a 26-15 edge on the defensive glass.
“Defense has been the area we’ve lacked some tenacity and toughness,” Ducks coach Kelly Graves said. “We’re so good offensively sometimes we think it’s going to be just as easy on the defensive end. That’s what we found out on this trip, we can defend.”
The Ducks were forced into 14 turnovers, three over their average, which was third-fewest in the nation. They shot 44 percent from the field, also below their nation-leading 53 percent.
Oregon: The Ducks closed out a winning weekend in Los Angeles, having beaten USC by 40 points on Friday, their second straight 40-point winning margin. They continue to be the class of the Pac-12, which has five teams ranked in the Top 25.
UCLA: The Bruins got swept at home, where they are 27-2 in Pac-12 play over the last four seasons. In their last four games, they’ve gone 1-3 against ranked teams.
SCOUTS IN THE HOUSE
New Los Angeles Sparks coach Derek Fisher and Las Vegas Aces coach Bill Laimbeer sat three seats apart scouting the game.
Among the players they kept eyes on was Sabrina Ionescu, the nation’s assist leader. The junior guard could decide to skip her senior year and head to the WNBA draft.
She had 14 points, five rebounds and six assists.
Ionescu came in averaging 19.6 points, 7.9 rebounds and 8.9 assists, making her the only player in the NCAA averaging at least 16 points and seven rebounds and seven assists.
Bryant sat across the USC court from Graves, who noticed him talking to his oldest daughter Gianna, who Bryant has said is determined to play at UConn.
“We’d make a great play and he’d turn to Gianna and say, ‘See that?’ He coaches his daughter,” Graves said. “He complimented us on how we play and our style.”
Chantel Horvat, who averages 15 minutes for the Bruins, missed the game after tweaking her right foot in Friday’s loss. She wore a boot, but it’s not expected to be serious.
Oregon: Hosts No. 19 Arizona State on Friday.
UCLA: Off six days until hosting rival Southern California on Jan. 20.