History Made as Ducks Down Stanford


EUGENE, Ore. — She’s the queen of UO women’s basketball. And on Thursday at Matthew Knight Arena, Sabrina Ionescu ascended to her throne.

Ionescu scored a career-high 37 points Thursday as the No. 6 Oregon women’s basketball team pounded No. 3 Stanford, 87-55, before 12,218 exultant fans in Matthew Knight Arena. In the process, Ionescu became the Ducks’ all-time leading scorer, reaching 2,265 career points to surpass previous career leader Alison Lang.

“She seems to always do it on nights like this,” UO coach Kelly Graves said of Ionescu’s latest record. “When the best is needed, that’s when she usually steps up.”

How It Happened: After a slow start offensively, Oregon fought back to lead at halftime, then blew the game wide open in the second half. The Cardinal scored the first seven points of the third quarter to lead 37-36, but Oregon rallied back to lead by 17 at quarter’s end, with Ionescu making it 62-46 on her record-setting basket and then capping the quarter with a three-pointer from the top of the arc.

The Ducks then opened the fourth quarter with a 14-1 run, making their overall run 43-12 after Stanford took the lead just after halftime. Ionescu was leading Oregon’s charge throughout.

“Games like this, she has another level to go to,” Graves said. “And thank goodness. But I thought the rest of the team went with her, which was really nice.”

The offensive fireworks late in the game weren’t apparent early on, as the Ducks missed their first seven three-point attempts. Ionescu finally made one to get Oregon within 15-11, but the UO women trailed 17-13 after the first period.

The tenor changed in the second, with Ionescu setting a new tone. After two baskets down low by Ruthy Hebard tied it, 17-17, Stanford went back up three before Ionescu knotted the score again with a three-pointer. The Ducks took their first lead of the game moments later when Ionescu hit a step-back three in the corner for a 23-22 advantage.

Late in the half, Jaz Shelley hit a floater over Stanford’s starting post for a 31-28 lead, and Satou Sabally followed with a three-pointer. Oregon was up six, and that was the lead at halftime.

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“It wasn’t just Sabrina,” Graves said. “Sabrina had a great night, but Ruthy was huge; Satou really came to play tonight. And then Taylor Chavez and Jaz Shelley came in and gave us a huge lift. And then always the player who gets underrated and overlooked us Minyon Moore. I thought defensively in that second half she really set the tone for us.”

The third quarter Thursday was Oregon’s best defensive period so far this year, Graves said, although like the game as a whole it began slowly — Stanford scored the first seven points to creep into the lead, 37-36. But Oregon answered with seven straight of its own, capped by a midrange jumper from Ionescu, and Moore sparked another 8-0 run by getting to the basket for a layup.

Another midrange jumper by Ionescu put Oregon up double digits at 52-42, and by then it was clearly her night. It was 60-46 when she scored again to break Lang’s UO career record, and Ionescu added an exclamation point to the quarter with a three-pointer for a 65-48 lead.

“We played mad all the way to the end,” Ionescu said, harkening back to Diana Taurasi’s preseason admonition to the Ducks to “stay mad” this year despite having reached the Final Four last spring.

Who Stood Out: Ionescu’s 37 points  topped her previous career-high of 36 against Stanford in 2018, and she added 11 rebounds with seven assists. Sabally added a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Ducks dominate the Cardinal on the boards, 35-26.

Hebard had 11 points and Moore added 10, and they also were key a defensive effort that forced 18 turnovers by Stanford, the most for the Cardinal in Pac-12 play this season.

What It Means: Oregon’s play has been uneven this season, but in the most high-profile game of the year so far, the Ducks found another level.

“Stanford’s the standard by which you’re judged,” Graves said. “Any time you can beat them, that’s a feather in your cap, there’s no doubt about it.”

Up Next: The Ducks host California on Sunday (2 p.m., Pac-12 Network).