Usually the offseason is a time for recovery and individual practice, but four members of the Oregon Women’s Basketball team decided to raise the level of competition to a global scale.
Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard, Oti Gildon and Erin Boley entered the 3X3 National Tournament and swept their eight games to earn the National Championship crown.
The Duck squad was then chosen to represent the US in Manila for the 3X3 World Cup, a surprising decision considering a combination of the Nation‘s best players are usually paired up and sent to the tournament, not an entire team.
The Ducks would eventually fall to Italy, but not before making their case as an elite team. Let’s recap the historic World Cup run of these Mighty Ducks!
USA VS IRAN
USA 21 - IRI 7
The Ducks quickly overwhelmed the Iranian team by hitting 18 of their 33 total shots. The Ionescu-Hebard connection was on full display for the world to see, but Gildon’s game-leading eight-point performance should have Duck fans excited for the Senior’s final season at Oregon. Gildon appears to have added muscle, and resembled Hebard’s style of play under the basket, though she relied more on her speed than power.
USA VS ANDORRA
USA 21 - AND 6
The US squad terrorized the team from Andorra in the paint, but was ice cold from deep, shooting 0-8 from two-point land (AKA the three-point line.) The Ducks’ inability to hit a two-pointer would eventually doom them against the talented Italians, but against Andorra it didn’t seem to matter that the Ducks offensive strategy was lopsided. Hebard led both squads with eight points, and Ionescu scored the majority of her points after abandoning the deep-ball and just taking it to the hoop herself.
USA VS UGANDA
USA 22 - UGA 9
It is widely known that Erin Boley, the Notre Dame transfer who sat out last year due to transfer rules, will be taking on a major role for the Ducks this upcoming season. The Redshirt Sophomore will look to replace the three-point firepower of Lexi Bando, and in the Ducks’ match-up against Uganda fans witnessed a quick glimpse of her potential as she went three of six from downtown. Hebard matched Boley’s score of seven by dominating the paint, and Ionescu broke her two-point drought with the game winning shot.
USA VS RUSSIA
USA 21 - RUS 13
Sabrina Ionescu pulled off an 11-point Rocky Balboa-esque performance against defending champion Russia. These teams were the odds-on favorites for the 3X3 World Cup Final as Russia was the defending champion and the US had won in ‘12 and ‘14. Though both teams had already clinched the two advancing positions out of their group, the intensity matched that of a Gold Medal game.
It was a back-and-forth event for much of the game, but the US started to pull away thanks to the crafty play of Ionescu. The tenacious point guard expanded her team‘s lead to 17-11 and earned two free throws due to Russia exceeding their limit.
USA VS ITALY
USA 14 - ITALY 17
Oregon had relied on the overpowering post play of Hebard and Gildon to push past their first four opponents in the group stage, but the Italian team would prove far too skilled to fall to a stagnant offense. The most telling stat of the game was the difference in two-point accuracy: Italy went four of eight, while the US was one of seven.
Poor shooting from behind the line plagued the Ducks in every game of the tournament (shooting 11 of 48 in five games), though Italy seemed to be the only team with both the Defense and Offense to take advantage of it. The US cut Russia’s lead to 14-10 with 1:05 remaining, but a Marcella Filippi two-pointer sealed their fate.
Once again, the Ducks fell to the eventual tournament champion. However, it would be foolish to believe they didn’t accomplish their goals. Sure, a gold medal would’ve been nice, but this group has nothing to prove to anybody- they aren’t just globetrotters, they’re Ducks!