By Anne M. Peterson

The Associated Press

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Air Force at No. 7 Oregon

When: 11 a.m. Thursday

EUGENE — Oregon coach Kelly Graves chided guard Sabrina Ionescu following No. 7 Oregon’s win over No. 4 Mississippi State as she rested her head in her hand while addressing the media.

“I’m tired!” Ionescu protested with a smile.

She’d certainly earned a breather. Ionescu scored 29 points, including all 17 of her free throws, as the Ducks handed the Bulldogs their first loss this season 82-74 on Tuesday night.

The Bulldogs (10-1) had won 46 regular-season nonconference games, and couldn’t catch up once the Ducks (9-1) started to pull away in the fourth quarter, boosted by their home fans. Maite Cazorla added 20 points for the Ducks.

Anriel Howard led Mississippi State with a career-high 30 points. Oregon held senior Teaira McCowan to five points, but she had 11 rebounds.

“Obviously it helps. That’s a quality win against a great team, they’ll be a one or a two seed ultimately, odds-on favorite to win the SEC, so, sure,” Graves said when asked what the win meant to the team’s season. “But the reality is, we enjoy it tonight and practice tomorrow and we’ll forget about it and move on.”

Oregon went up 64-57 on Ruthy Hebard’s short jumper with 7:47 left. Cazorla added a layup for the Ducks before Bre’Amber Scott’s 3-pointer for Mississippi State.

A driving layup from Cazorla made it 76-65 and got the crowd at Matthew Knight Arena on its feet. Jazzmun Holmes’ layup got the Bulldogs within 80-74 with 1:23 left, and Howard fouled out a short time later.

The Ducks went into the game leading the nation with an average of 92.4 points a game, while the Bulldogs, last season’s NCAA tournament runner-up, were a close second at 92.3.

“We played a really good team,” Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer said. “I’m disappointed. I thought we got out-toughed all night long. Give credit to Oregon. That’s something we take great pride in is winning the toughness battle. It’s one thing to talk the talk, it’s another thing to walk the walk, and Oregon walked the walk tonight. They out-toughed us, they got every loose ball, every 50-50 ball, every tough rebound.”

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