The ninth-ranked Oregon State Beavers Women’s Basketball team takes on the third-ranked Oregon Ducks in games 26 and 27 of the season. Tip-off for game one (in Eugene) of the Civil War is slated for 6 PM PST on Friday, February 15th, while game two is scheduled for the same time on Monday, February 18th (in Corvallis). Watch the games on the telly (game one on the PAC-12 Network, game two on ESPN 2), go in person, or check out the team’s Twitter page for other ways to follow along live. Let’s take a closer look at the Oregon Ducks.
Oregon (#3 AP, 23-1 overall, 12-0 conference)
Last season: 33-5 overall, 16-2 in PAC-12 (1st), lost in Elite Eight of NCAA Tournament
There’s no other way to put it, Oregon is REALLY good. As of right now, they own the nation’s longest active winning streak at 16 games. They are coming off a complete dismantling of the 10th-ranked Stanford Cardinal, who had just beaten up on the ninth-ranked Oregon State Beavers. How bad was it? Oregon beat Stanford by 40 points, worst of the Tara VanDerveer era. While it may be their most impressive win to this date, ending a 32-year losing streak at Stanford, they also have wins over #5 Mississippi State, #16 Syracuse, #19 Arizona State, and three other teams receiving votes for the top-25. Their only loss, which seems sooooo long ago at this point, was at #24 Michigan State back on December 9th.
Oregon ranks nationally in many categories. Most notably, first in scoring, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage. Forward Ruthy Hebard ranks first in the PAC-12 and nation for shooting accuracy, while two other Ducks round out the top-five shooters in the conference. They are also home to the top three three-point shooters in the PAC-12. Then there are their top-five ranks in the nation for assists (thanks to nationally leading guard Sabrina Ionescu) and fewest turnovers. This is one well-oiled machine.
The Ducks are led by Kelly Graves. Earlier this week, the Oregonian’s John Canzano wrote a column about the upcoming Civil War series and mentioned how Graves interviewed for the Oregon State job in 2005 that eventually went to LaVonda Wagner. *Shudder* Sorry, where was I?
Oh yeah. Graves took the Oregon job in 2014 after a successful stint at Gonzaga. He immediately made an impact by taking Oregon to the WNIT in his second year, and then followed that up with back-to-back Elite Eight appearances.
Who to watch
#20 - Sabrina Ionescu, Junior Guard
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably heard of Ionescu. Perhaps it’s because she’s the leader of the #3 team in the nation, a team that’s gone to back-to-back Elite Eights. The fact that she’s the returning PAC-12 Player of the Year and an All-American. Or maybe it’s because she’s not afraid to make fun of herself. Most likely, it’s because she’s racked up SIX-FREAKING-TEEN triple-doubles in her college career thus far.
#24 - Ruthy Hebard, Junior Forward
How accurate is Ruthy Hebard? As stated previously, she is first in the nation in field goal percentage, but she leads the conference by at least 16 percentage points! The All-PAC-12 team member and All-American honorable mention has quietly been on a tear this year averaging 16.6 points and nine rebounds a game. I wish Marie Gülich was still around so that these two could battle it out in the paint for another year.
#0 - Satou Sabally, Sophomore Forward
While Ionescu will end her career at Oregon as the best player to come through the program, Satou Sabally may not be too far behind her by the time her career is over. The former PAC-12 Freshman of the Year is a rare talent standing at 6’4’’, who moves like a guard and hits the three like one too at over 45%. She has two 30 point games this year, one more that Ionescu.
I got to admit, this doesn't look real good right now. While the Beavers have certainly earned their top-ten ranking this year, they have not been hitting on all cylinders lately. Their bread and butter, the three ball, has disappeared lately as teams have focused on perimeter defense, causing Destiny Slocum to put the team on her back for stretches at a time. When they have gotten open looks, the shots just haven't been falling like they used to. I see this team losing at Matthew Knight Arena, but I believe the fans in Gill Coliseum can help spark some fire in the team and bring some magic that gets them to steal a win from what could be the nation's best team. Beavers and Ducks split the series for the second straight year.