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Hebard and Ionescu Earn Gold in Pan Am Games


COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 10 Women’s Oregon at Stanford Photo by Cody Glenn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Oregon’s legendary duo now have a pair of gold medals to add to their already crowded trophy rooms. Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard led Team USA in the 3x3 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. They finished the competition undefeated, a first for the exciting and rapidly growing competition.

Last year’s team featured a roster consisting entirely of Ducks: Ionescu, Hebard, Oti Gildon and Erin Boley. This year, however, a combination of the best players were chosen to represent the country.Two players from the mighty Uconn Huskies, Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Christyn Williams, were chosen to fill out the four player roster required for 3X3 play.

For those of you unfamiliar with 3X3 basketball, the tournament’s debut was held in 2012 in Athens, Greece. It’s gone from twice a year to an annual event, and includes both men’s and women’s teams. The FIBA 3X3 World Cup also includes unique rules that aim to achieve their goal of making basketball a more versatile sport.

Here is a quick run-through of the rules:

-Teams consist of three players and one substitute.

-The game is played on a half-court

-First team to score 21 points wins.

-The game has a single 10 minute period and a 12-second shot clock.

-A shot inside the arc is one point, behind the arc is two points.

-A tie after 10 minutes results in overtime. First team to score two points in OT wins.

-CLICK HERE for a more extensive description of the rules.

While Lydia Giomi and Oti Gildon are fantastic players in their own right, Nelson-Ododa and Williams from UConn are certainly an upgrade. Williams, the 5’11 guard, started every game and earned the AAC freshman of the year by averaging 11.7 points and scoring double digits in 24 games. Nelson-Ododa, on the other hand, may not have been a full-time starter, but at 6’4 the forward from Winder, Georgia found herself on the good side of a Ionescu assist frequently.

Team USA swept the first three of the preliminary games by defeating Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil by a combined 63 to 27. Argentina put up the best fight, even taking a 15-14 lead before team USA hit six-straight free throws, capping the win with a Ionescu jump shot. Then, Uruguay and Brazil were quickly overwhelmed by the red, white and blue (losing 21-5 and 21-7 respectively), meaning USA was at the top of Group A at the end of the first day.

The OreConnDuskies - a nickname that has caught on after Oregon Coach Kelly Graves tweeted out a call for suggestions - finished the preliminary rounds 5-0 by defeating Venezuela (18-14) and the Dominican Republic (21-7), the latter of the teams proving to be a very physical. and frankly brutal, match.

Their perfect start gave the USA the top seed going into the semifinals. Brazil had an even harder time keeping up with this american super-squad the second time around and ultimately fell 21-5.

A few hours later, Team USA faced off against Argentina in the championship game. The intensity of the moment seemed to help the Argentinians, and the team from OreConn was most challenged in their seventh and final game. But the Ducks combined for the team’s final nine points, including the game winner - a Ionescu assist to Hebard in the paint.