The Dream Team is reuniting and it feels so good! To celebrate the return of Oregon Women’s Basketball, here’s a recap of the Ducks’ historic 2018-19 season!
RECORD: 33-5, 16-2
BEST WINS: Syracuse, Utah State, South Dakota State (twice), Mississippi State (twice), Arizona State (twice), Stanford, Oregon State, UCLA (twice), Indiana
LOSSES: Michigan State, Oregon State, UCLA, Stanford, Baylor
- W (11/6) Alaska Fairbanks. 115-36
- W (11/10) #18 Syracuse, 75-73
- W (11/14) Utah State, 88-58
- W (11/18) Buffalo, 102 -82
- W (11/23) UC Riverside, 94-44
- W (11/24) Saint Mary’s, 79-55
- W (12/2) Long Beach State, 110-48
- L (12/9) Michigan State, 82-88
- W (12/12) South Dakota State, 87-79
- W (12/18) #4 Mississippi State, 82-74
- W (12/20) Air Force, 82-36
- W (12/21) UC Irvine, 115-69
The Oregon Women’s Basketball team entered their non-conference season with an unprecedented amount of hype, and mostly lived up to it. The 2018 season kicked off with a trip home for Ruthy Hebard. On November 6th, the Ducks were welcomed by cold arms in Fairbanks, Alaska. Despite the home team losing 115 to 36, the event was a joyous one as tale of the Ducks, and specifically home town hero Hebard, had clearly reached the small town, creating a true exhibition game for the eager fans as Sabrina Ionescu tallied her first of eight triple-doubles in the season.
Things quickly picked up as the Syracuse Orange came to Matt Knight Arena later in the week. After building a seven-point lead at the half, Syracuse rallied back and nearly pulled off the upset. However, down by six with 2:06 remaining, Oregon scored three consecutive triples (back-to-back shots from Ionescu and the third from Erin Boley) to reclaim the lead for good.
Oregon blew past Utah State and Buffalo, the former on the road and the latter in Eugene. Against Utah State, the Ducks shot 75% in the first quarter and effectively won the game early by building a 14-point lead before the second. Ionescu had arguably her worst games of the season (1/7 FG - 1/2 3PT - 9/10 FT - 10 REB) yet still managed a triple-double in the victory over Buffalo.
“That was like the worst triple-double I’ve ever had,,, It almost shouldn’t count. But it was nice to have everybody else step up.” - Ionescu on the win over Buffalo
The Saint Mary’s Thanksgiving Classic was up next for the Ducks. First, UC Riverside fell to Oregon in a 50-point loss, then Saint Mary’s suffered the same fate as Ionescu scored 27 in the Ducks’ 79-55 victory. Against Long Beach State a week later, Ionescu continued to impress by breaking a school record for single-game assists with 17. Boley also had a memorable game, scoring a career-high 24 points.
Eight games into the non-con schedule, the Ducks suffered their first loss of the season at the hands of the Michigan State Spartans at the Breslin Center.
Oregon opened the game on a 9-0 run, but the Spartans responded with a 17-2 stretch in the second that eventually gave them a 46 to 39 lead at the half. Ionescu scored 29 and Boley had another 24-point game in the losing effort. In the end, the Spartans played a physical game that paid dividends late against the visiting Ducks.
The following game was another nail-biter, though Oregon emerged victorious. The South Dakota State Jackrabbits built a 45-40 lead at the half due to some excellent shooting (7-of-13 from three in the first half) and a raucous home crowd, but the Duck defense limited the Jackrabbits to just three triples in the second half and Ionescu and Satou Sabally had a combined 53 points in their bounce-back victory after the Michigan State loss.
Things didn’t get any easier for the Ducks when they returned home to face #4 Mississippi State. Led by Teaira McCowan, the Bulldogs came into Matt Knight Arena undefeated and widely regarded as one of the most likely teams to win the National Championship, but Ionescu and crew upset the Bulldogs behind a 29-point performance by the triple-double queen. The Ducks connected on 27 of their 28 free throws and were able to limit McCowan to just five points and earn an 82 to 74 victory in front of a crowd of nearly 9,000.
Though it wouldn’t be the last time the Bulldogs and Ducks would battle...
Oregon’s final two non-conference games took place on Dec 20th and Dec 21st against Air Force and UC Irvine. The Ducks defeated these teams by a combined 197 to 105 before a two-week break heading into PAC-12 play, and Ionescu scored back-to-back triple doubles in these contests. Against Air Force, she scored her thirteenth triple-double, surpassing Kyle Collinsworth’s record and becoming the all-time triple-double leader for both men’s and women’s basketball, so I suppose her triple-double against UC Irvine was a bit of a victory lap.
- W (1/4) Washington, 84-71
- W (1/6) Washington State, 98-58
- W (1/11) USC, 93-53
- W (1/13) UCLA, 72-52
- W (1/18) #19 Arizona State, 77-71
- W (1/20) Arizona, 93-60
- W (1/25) Washington State, 79-64
- W (1/27) Washington, 76-57
- W (2/1) #14 Utah, 87-65
- W (2/3) Colorado, 102-43
- W (2/8) California, 105-82
- W (2/10) #11 Stanford, 88-48
- W (2/15) #9 Oregon State, 77-68
- L (2/18) #12 Oregon State, 62-67
- L (2/22) UCLA, 69-74
- W (2/24) USC, 96-78
- W (3/1) Arizona, 83-54
- W (3/3) Arizona State, 66-59
For the Oregon Ducks, conference play began at home against the Washington schools, first against the Huskies then the Cougars. washington kept it more competitive than many thought they would - at one point in the fourth quarter the score was 66-65 in favor of the Ducks - but the red-hot hands of Boley helped Oregon start conference play on the right webbed foot. Boley had a new career-high of 28 points, finishing her night with eight three-pointers.
The most notable thing about the 98-58 win over Wazzu is most definitely Ionescu’s 15th career triple-double in front of a record crowd, though we would be remiss not to mention Hebard’s career-high 34-point game. Neither LA school put up much of a fight in the following week, but their next conference foe proved much more competitive.
The #19 Sun Devils gave the Ducks all they could handle, nearly pulling off the upset in Eugene, but Ionescu scored a season-high 31 points (her third career 30-point game) and Oregon was able to hold on through Arizona State’s fourth quarter rally. Some clutch shots from Ionescu and Maite Cazorla saved the day and Oregon’s perfect PAC-12 record.
The Wildcats proved a much easier out; in short, the Ducks coasted to a 33-point victory after building a 31 to 4 lead in the first quarter. To add insult to injury, Ionescu tied her season triple-double record (6) in the rout. Sabally and Boley had career games in contests against the Washington schools, the former scoring a career-high 33 points, including eight triples, in a game in which the Ducks trailed the Cougs 34-30 at the half, and the latter hitting nine three-pointers (matching the Oregon single-game record shared with Katelyn Loper and Taylor Lilley) and scoring a new career-high of 31 points in Seattle.
#14 Utah came to Matt Knight with an 18-1, 7-1 record and a win over then-#6 Stanford the week before. But despite the Utes’ Megan Huff scoring 38 points, Oregon was able to pull away late in the fourth quarter. The Ducks had six different players score in double digits in their 87 to 65 victory over the Utes.
Games against Colorado and California quickly turned into blowouts as the Ducks managed to score more than 100 points in both games. The Buffs looked below average throughout the first three quarters (scoring only two points in the first quarter and finishing the third quarter trailing 22 to 74) and the Golden Bears were unable to contain Sabally who went off for 31 points.
The next week for Oregon was a high point for the Ducks program but was followed by Oregon’s worst week in the 2018-19 season. It started with a win over No. 11 Stanford at Maples Pavilion, and what a win it was as the Ducks outscored the Cardinal 88 to 48 to deliver Stanford its largest loss under Coach Tara VanDerveer. Five days later, #3 Oregon beat their oldest rival in front of a sold-out crowd as the #9 Oregon State Beavers fell short of upsetting the Ducks, 77 to 68.
But after a week of extreme highs, the #2 Ducks came crashing down to earth when the Beavers defended their home turf in a 67-62 victory. Early in the second quarter, Hebard suffered a knee injury that took her out for the rest of the game, and the power forward’s absence combined with the off-shooting night of the rest of the Ducks (Oregon finished shooting .358% from the floor and .227% from three-point land, and Ionescu missed a crucial uncontested layup late in the fourth) led to an ecstatic crowd in Corvallis. Both teams shot well below their average due to fiery defensive performances from both teams.
The loss to the Beavers was bad enough, but the following game against UCLA was a much harder result to swallow. With Hebard still riding the bench, Oregon was able to build a 42-27 lead at the half, but an abysmal third quarter in which they were outscored 21 to 11 led to the Ducks’ second straight loss. A week before this game, Oregon was ranked No. 2 and had a two-game conference lead over the second place Beavers, but after consecutive losses suddenly the season was in jeopardy.
On Senior day, Oregon was able to re-establish their PAC-12 dominance by beating USC 96 to 78. Boley scored a new career-high of 32 points, Ionescu tallied her seventh triple-double of the season (an NCAA record for most in a season and the 17th triple-double of her career), and Hebard returned from her knee injury to score 13 points.
Then Oregon clinched a share of the PAC-12 title due to the Beavers losing to the Sun Devils and the Ducks dismantling the Wildcats on the same day. It was the fourth PAC-12/10 title in program history and came off a victory in which Arizona was held scoreless in the fourth in their 83-54 loss.
#21 Arizona State was much more competitive than their rivals, just like they were earlier in the season when they nearly beat the Ducks at Matt Knight Arena, but Oregon was still able to come back from a five point deficit in the fourth to claim a 66-59 victory and an outright PAC-12 title.
- W (3/8) PAC-12 Tournament, Arizona, 77-63
- W (3/9) PAC-12 Tournament, #25 UCLA, 88-83 OT
- L (3/10) PAC 12 Championship Game, #7 Stanford, 57-64
- W (3/22) NCAA Tournament, #15 seed Portland State, 78-40
- W (3/24) NCAA Tournament, #10 seed Indiana, 91-68
- W (3/29) Sweet Sixteen, #6 seed South Dakota State, 63-53
- W (3/31) Elite Eight, #1 seed Mississippi State, 88-84
- L (4/5) Final Four, #1 seed Baylor, 67-72
Oregon earned the top seed of the PAC-12 tournament, but things didn’t come easy for the Ducks despite getting to sit out for the first round. Aari McDonald and the 8-seed Arizona Wildcats played inspired offense, capitalizing on Oregon’s turnovers as their sensational guard scored 34 points in their 14-point loss.
4-seed UCLA nearly upset the Ducks, but despite Hebard’s healing knee and Cazorla’s cold, Oregon was able to hold on for the 88-83 overtime victory. But the win proved a costly one, as the 2-seed Stanford Cardinal played four full quarters of bully ball to steal away the PAC-12 Championship game. The Ducks may have beaten them by 40 in their lone regular season contest, but on this day their thin bench came back to bite them against the well-rested Cardinal.
And then the real tournament began...
After 12 days of rest, the Ducks returned to Matt Knight Arena to face Portland State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The loss to Stanford dropped Oregon down to a second seed, but they were still able to play their first two games of the Big Dance in front of their home fans. Against the Vikings, Sabally scored her fourth double-double of the season and the Ducks were able to build a 20-point lead at the half, finishing the game with a 78 to 40 win.
Then, against 10-seed Indiana, Ionescu scored her 18th career triple-double to join Nicole Powell as the only players to have multiple triple-doubles in tournament play. The Hoosiers played spirited offense throughout but were outscored in every quarter, resulting in a 91-68 Duck victory and a return trip to the Sweet 16.
The most points ever scored in an #NCAAW Tournament triple-double. #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/ppEjtdjhER— Oregon Women’s Basketball (@OregonWBB) March 25, 2019
The Ducks and Jackrabbits met again after playing a highly competitive game in Brookings, South Dakota in the regular season. Oregon shot well below their average, hitting 43.1% from the floor and just four of their 20 three-point attempts, but still managed to win 63-53 behind a double-double by Hebard.
Another rematch for the Ducks ended in a historical win for the program when the 1-seed Mississippi State Bulldogs fell to Oregon in front of a raucous Portland crowd, 88 to 84. Teaira McCowan played a much better game than when she visited Eugene earlier in the year, finishing with 19 points and 15 rebounds, but Ionescu led all scorers with 31 points.
Five days later, Oregon fell to Baylor in a 72-67 heart-breaker in which the Lady Bears attempted just three triples. The Ducks led by one-point at the half, but Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox proved too much for the Mighty Ducks. Still, after failing to advance in consecutive trips to the Elite Eight, Oregon’s Final Four run should be praised as one of the UO’s greatest athletic achievements.
Their victory over Mississippi State in Portland felt like Oregon’s induction into the elite circle of Women’s College Basketball, but Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard, Satou Sabally, Erin Boley and the rest of the team will be satisfied with nothing less than a National Championship this season.
“We continue to learn... We were put in a position we haven’t been put before. But I think this us just going to make us more hungry. It’s going to get us ready to want to come back.” Ionescu on reaching the Final Four
(opposition’s average in parenthesis)
84.9 POINTS PER GAME (63.0)
.501% FIELD GOAL (.399)
.415% THREE POINT (307)
.766% FREE THROW (.732)
37.8 REBOUNDS PER GAME (30.7)
18.9 ASSISTS PER GAME/ 10.0 TURNOVERS
7.0 STEALS PER GAME (4.6)
2.8 BLOCKS (2.6)
7,148 AVERAGE ATTENDANCE