It’s time. After a gut-wrenchingly close loss against Stanford, the Beavers need a big win thiss weekend if they want to hang on and have a shot at a top 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Who do they take on this weekend? Well about that.
#4 - Oregon Ducks (15-2, 5-1)
- Head Coach: Kelly Graves (5th Season)
- Top Performer Sabrina Ionescu (17.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 8.6 APG)
- Points For: 87.6
- Points Again: 56.6
- Last Game/Streak: 105-55 W vs. Cal (3W)
Before the season started, most people pegged the Ducks as preseason favorites for the Championship. After they took down Team USA in an exhibition match, the hype only grew. They cruised through the early part of the season with a string of double digit victories, until Louisville managed to take down Oregon in an impressive upset.
The Ducks quickly got back to dominant wins, cruising through the rest of their non-conference schedule. They picked up easy wins over Colorado and Utah, but then ran into the same problem Oregon State did; the Arizona State Sun Devils. After a pair of blowout wins over Cal and Stanford, Oregon looks poised to take back control of the Pac-12.
If you follow Women’s College Basketball, you already know a lot of these players. Point Guard Sabrina Ionescu has been the best player in the women’s game for a few years now, and she’s putting together another dominant season. If you haven’t watched Ionescu play before, you’re missing out. She looks impossible to defend, can score from just about anywhere on the court, and frustrating presence defensively, racking up 26 steals so far this season. Even in the Ducks’ losses Ionescu still couldn’t be contained, the rest of the team just couldn’t keep up with her.
Of course, the Ducks aren’t a one woman show. Ionescu is backed up by two more projected first round WNBA draft picks; forwards Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally. Hebard, the team’s second leading scorer (16.5 PPG) and their top rebounder (9.3 RPG), guards the post with ferocity, totaling 24 blocks so far this season. Sabally missed the first few games this season, but hasn’t missed a step since her return, scoring 16.0 PPG.
USC transfer Minyon Moore gives the Ducks another weapon to work with. Moore was already a star with the Women of Troy, and has slotted well into the Ducks’ starting five, scoring 8.0 points per game and adding another 25 steals. She gives Oregon another excellent scoring threat around the perimeter. She’s joined there by Erin Boley, the team’s top three point shooter, who has hit 37 of her 96 attempts for a .385 three point shooting percentage, and 8.6 points per game. Every member of the Ducks’ starting 5 is averaging at least 8 points per game.
Player to Watch
Sabrina Ionescu - Senior Point Guard
It can’t be anyone else. Ionescu is the orbit the entire NCAA is orbiting around this season. She stayed out of the WNBA draft intent to chase a championship, and the Ducks look like they’re on track. The question for the Beavers isn’t how they can control Ionescu, it’s whether they can force Oregon to rely only on Ionescu. In the Ducks two losses, Ionescu still performed well, but her teammates weren’t able to set her up or benefit from her performance. If you turn the Ducks one dimensional, you can beat them; it’s just extremely difficult.
- Date: Friday, January 24th and Sunday, January 26th
- Time: 7:00 PM PT (Game 1) and 1:00 PM PT (Game 2)
- Location: Matthew Knight Arena (Eugene, OR) Game 1 - Gill Coliseum (Corvallis, OR) Game 2
- Coverage: Pac-12 Networks (Game 1) and ESPN2 (Game 2)