Oregon Ducks

Duck seniors leaving Oregon football better than how they found it

Duck seniors leaving Oregon football better than how they found it

THE SCENE

In the middle of a media circle ahead of Oregon’s final conference game against rival Oregon State, Oregon senior linebacker Troy Dye stared at Autzen Stadium and stuttered.

In four years of covering Dye, he’s never stuttered.

Oregon’s leading tackler for the past three seasons exudes leadership, confidence and is always good for a sharp comment or mic-drop moment. However, when asked about running out of the tunnel in green and yellow for the final time in Autzen Stadium, Dye got caught up in the moment.

"No matter how it is, man, I'm going to have fun with it one last time in the big and crazy Autzen Stadium,” Dye paused. “I definitely will shed a tear, there is nowhere around that one… It's crazy how fast the time flies and I'm just enjoying every moment of it."

Since the minute Dye arrived in Eugene, Oregon, he’s disrupted backfields and locked down in coverage, surpassing 100 tackles as a freshman, sophomore and junior.

He’s been the heart and soul of the Duck defense through tumultuous times, including three different head coaches (Mark Helfrich, Willie Taggart, Mario Cristobal), three different defensive coordinators (Brady Hoke, Jim Leavitt, Andy Avalos) and countless scheme changes.

SPECIAL CONNECTION

The senior class and Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal have a special bond and connection. As freshmen in 2016, they played on a team that finished 4-8 and left out of a bowl game. In 2017, Cristobal joined the coaching staff and brought discipline with him. Later that season, more than 70 Duck players signed a petition to UO Athletic Director Rob Mullens, lobbying for Cristobal to take over the program when former coach Taggart departed for Florida State. Oregon’s current seniors, and a few juniors, are the only remaining players who signed that petition.

For that, Cristobal is deeply thankful.

THE LEGACY

Dye will shed a tear on an expected cold Saturday afternoon in Autzen Stadium and so will senior left guard Shane Lemieux. Lemieux has started 49 consecutive games, earning two Pac-12 offensive lineman of the week honors and first team midseason All-American by the Associated Press this season.

He will play in the 2020 Senior Bowl along with Dye. Lemieux says the senior class has achieved their ultimate goal: leaving the Oregon football program better than they found it.

“It’s bittersweet. I know I will probably cry when I walk out there because I love this program so much and I put so much work into this. The seniors have been through so much,” Lemieux said. “The love I have for these coaches and guys like Penei (Sewell) that I probably will never play with again, until, maybe, down the road hopefully… I feel like this program is headed in the right direction.”

PASS OF THE TORCH

Sophomore left tackle Penei Sewell stands close by answering questions about being named one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy. Sewell joins Oregon legend and five-time NFL pro bowler Haloti Ngata (2005) as the only two players in program history be a finalist for the trophy awarded annually to the nation's best college interior lineman on offense or defense.
Sewell smiles as he locks eyes with his teammate, Lemieux, who he credits as a mentor who helped him adjust to college football.

“Wooooooo, (the seniors) are my brothers, man,” Sewell said. “My man right there, Shane Lemieux! He’s always taken me under his wing and I’m going to miss him, for real. I’m going to make the most of (the games remaining). I’m going to make the most of it.”

HERBERT’S FINAL WISH

At Pac-12 Media Day in July, ahead of the 2019 football season, Washington State Coach Mike Leach made a comment about quarterback Justin Herbert.

“Seems like Herbert has been there forever,” said Leach of the four-year starter. “Somehow they granted him 10 years of eligibility.”

While it may feel like 10 years to coaches who’ve had to game plan for Herbert’s elite arm and sneaky fast wheels, Herbert’s time as a Duck is coming to a close.

Oregon is one win away from its first 10-win season since 2014 with a chance to be crowed Pac-12 Champions. Now that the national title is out of the picture, Herbert said, “It means everything,” to learn from the ASU loss and refocus on finishing the season strong.

“We are coming up on the end of our senior year and playing football here has been the best four years of my life,” Herbert said. “I’d do anything to have a couple more games. I know we are going to do everything we can this week to get better, learn from it and do our best to get ready for Oregon State.”

HATS OFF

Oregon will honor 26 seniors this Saturday, including: Herbert, Dye, Lemieux, linebacker La’Mar Winston Jr., offensive lineman Jake Hanson, offensive lineman Calvin Throckmorton, offensive lineman Dallas Warmack, wide receiver Juwan Johnson, tight end Ryan Bay, defensive tackle Drayton Carlberg, linebacker Bryson Young and punter Blake Maimone. Plus tight end Jacob Breeland and defensive end Gus Cumberlander, who both suffered season ending injuries.

Quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator Marcus Arroyo joined Oregon’s staff after the losing 2016 season. He’s seen how the instability and tumultuous Oregon careers has bonded the special class that stuck it out for the opportunity to turn around the Duck football program.

“Resilient. Tough. Educated in the game off and on the field,” Arroyo said. “Some of the things that have happened off the field, working through different schemes and coaches, my hat is off to this group of guys. They are phenomenal and a resilient group that is passionate about Oregon football.”

Ahead of the meaningful Civil War rivalry with Oregon State, the senior Ducks will have a moment with their families- families of blood, teammates and their chosen Duck football family.

So what do you say fans of Autzen Stadium, a farewell and hats off to the seniors who persevered to leave Oregon a better place than when they arrived?

Oregon teammates Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner reach Super Bowl together with 49ers

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USATI

Oregon teammates Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner reach Super Bowl together with 49ers

MIAMI – Arik Armstead leaned over to DeForest Buckner as the 49ers boarded their charter flight to Miami.

“Bro, we’re going to the Super Bowl,” Armstead said.

They’ve had several Paul Rudd-esque “look at us” moments over the years, but that one hit different.

The NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers landed in South Florida on Sunday evening. This hysteria of Super Bowl week is a spectacle that only grows with each passing year. It began on Monday with Super Bowl Opening Night at Marlins Park. Armstead and Buckner spent an hour answering questions from media outlets from all around the world. As is the nature with that specific event, the conversations commonly strayed away from football.

But the two did recognize just how special their journey together has been.

They arrived to the University of Oregon in 2012, each a four-star recruit – Buckner from Oahu, Hawaii and Armstead from Elk Grove, Calif. The pair of 6-foot-7 defensive linemen became an immediate force for the Ducks. Oregon posted at least 11 wins from 2012-14 including a victory in the Fiesta Bowl in 2012 and a berth in the first ever College Football Playoff National Championship Game in 2014.

Armstead opted to leave college early and turn pro after his junior year. The 49ers selected him in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft (17th overall). Buckner came out a year later. In a serendipitous moment, San Francisco drafted Buckner seventh overall. The college teammates, friends and roommates were together once again.

“It’s faith, man,” Buckner said. “It’s crazy how things work out. To be college roommates, teammates, having so much success at Oregon together, him leaving early, me staying another year, both of us getting drafted to the same team – it’s crazy to me.”

Armstead had already endured a 5-11 record as a rookie in 2015. Their first three seasons together in the NFL from 2015-18 saw the 49ers post an abysmal combined record of 12-36. They’ve each played crucial roles in San Francisco’s 13-3 turnaround. The 49ers won the NFC West in 2019 and claimed the No. 1 seed in the NFC before steamrolling the Vikings and Packers in the Divisional Round and NFC Championship Game, respectively.

Buckner, fresh off a 12-sack season and his first Pro Bowl appearance in 2018, continued to be a force in 2019 with 7.5 sacks, four fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and a touchdown. Armstead exploded for 10 sacks after never having a season with more than three. Now, they’re days away from playing the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.

“We talk about it all the time – all the shared experiences we have together, playing alongside each other for seven years,” Armstead said. “It’s been great to have someone who knows what you go through and plays a similar position. It’s been great to play alongside him for so many years.”

The reality is that Sunday could very well be their last game as teammates. Armstead is set to be an unrestricted free agent in March, and with the 49ers tight on cap space, he may be the odd man out in San Francisco. The 49ers will need to work out a mega deal with tight end George Kittle and Buckner could also be in line for a new contract ahead of his fifth-year option in 2020.

That’s not to say it’s impossible as the 49ers would surely love to keep him in a perfect world. But Armstead has made himself a lot of money with his breakout season, and his play may have priced out San Francisco when other bidders come calling.

“We need to cherish every single moment, take it one day at a time and try to get this victory on Sunday,” Buckner said of the chances Armstead departs in a few months.

The 49ers have a great chance to beat the Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium. Should that happen, you can envision Buckner and Armstead hoisting the Lombardi Trophy with confetti raining down on them. They’ll know exactly what the other is thinking without having to say a word.

“Look at us.”

A historical weekend leads to Chris Duarte earning Pac-12 Player of the Week honors

A historical weekend leads to Chris Duarte earning Pac-12 Player of the Week honors

For the second time this season, Chris Duarte has been named the Pac-12 Player of the Week.

Duarte’s historical performance on Thursday night vs. the visiting USC Trojans was nothing short of spectacular. 

[RELATED]: Chris Duarte’s 30 points wasn’t even the best part of his game vs. USC

Offensively, he dominated. A 30-point night off 9-of-20 from the field and 3-of-6 from three-point range. But it was his defensive effort that was 

Duarte nearly recorded a triple-double: 30 points, 11 rebounds and eight steals. The last player to do that was Niagara’s Alvin Young, who had 34 points, 11 rebounds and nine steals against Saint Peter’s on Jan. 30, 1999. According to GoDucks.com, the eight steals was the most by a Duck since Kenya Wilkins set the school record with nine against Boise State on Dec. 20, 1996. It was also the most steals by a Pac-12 player since 2015 (T.J. McConnell, Arizona).

Oregon went on to win in double overtime 79-70 over USC.

On Sunday against the visiting UCLA Bruins, Duarte picked up right where he left off. His hot-hand continued and recorded 24 points off 8-of-14 from the field and 4-of-7 from three-point range. He pulled down six rebounds, six assists and added five steals. Oregon won handidly over UCLA, 96-75 at Matthew Knight Arena.

Over the weekend, Duarte averaged 27.0 points on 50 percent shooting and 54 percent from three-point range. 

With the sweep of the L.A. schools, the Ducks now take the sole lead in the Pac-12 conference with a 17-4 overall record and 6-2 in the conference. 

The L.A. Chargers are moving on from Phillip Rivers.....is it Justin Herbert time?

The L.A. Chargers are moving on from Phillip Rivers.....is it Justin Herbert time?

It's the end of an era for the Los Angeles Chargers.

According to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, the Chargers have informed quarterback Phillip Rivers that they will move on from him after sixteen seasons.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported last week that the 38-year-old quarterback moved his family "permanently" from San Diego to Florida. Rivers is a free agent coming off a season where he passed for 4,615 yards and 23 touchdowns, his fewest since 2007, and 20 interceptions. 

Schefter states that the Chargers have been impressed with backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor and may have him start for them next season, which very well may be the case. But, it's hard to believe the Chargers see Taylor as the long-term replacement for Rivers especially when they could have played him last season over him. 

Rivers' replacement may not be on the roster yet, and the Chargers may be looking to the upcoming NFL Draft for his heir... Insert, Justin Herbert?

The Chargers own the sixth overall selection in the upcoming draft which aligns with Herbert's projected draft range of inside the top-ten. The Eugene native has found himself in a consensus top-three among the quarterbacks joining LSU's Joe Burrow and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa. The former completed arguably the best college season ever for a quarterback winning the Heisman Trophy, National Championship and breaking the touchdown record for a single season. The latter was the consensus top quarterback in the draft before suffering a season-ending hip injury against Mississippi State.

Herbert impressed scouts and NFL coaches alike last week at the Senior Bowl being named the MVP of both the practices and the game. 

Most of the buzz coming out of the Senior Bowl was about Herbert's stellar play which should keep his draft stock high. The event helped Daniel Jones get chosen sixth overall last season after being named MVP of the event. Perhaps history will repeat itself. 

Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan raved about Herbert praising his "prototypical size and athletic ability", intelligence, and a "really, really strong arm". His team also owns the first overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. The expectation is that they'll select Joe Burrow, however.

[RELATED: Who won the Senior Bowl? Justin Herbert]

After the Bengals, the next team in need of a quarterback is the Miami Dolphins at No. 5 who infamously appeared to tank the season for a high draft pick. But they had a little too much "Fitzmagic" and received the fifth pick. Speaking of the 37-year-old quarterback, Dolphins general manager expects Ryan Fitzpatrick to return to the team in 2020, so it'd make sense for them to take Tua Tagovaloia and sit him for a season.

That would leave the Chargers on the clock with Justin Herbert as the best quarterback available. Given the rest of the Chargers' roster is loaded with talent, they would want to take advantage of it by getting a high-level quarterback in as soon as possible to make a Super Bowl run. Five of the last eight Super Bowls have had quarterbacks on rookie contracts starting the big game, and it would have been six if Carson Wentz hadn't suffered a torn ACL during the Eagles' championship season.

If Herbert can continue to impress during the draft process at the NFL Combine and his pro day, which by all predictable measures he will, don't be surprised if he's headed to Hollywood. 

Sabrina Ionescu named back-to-back Pac-12 Player of the Week

Sabrina Ionescu named back-to-back Pac-12 Player of the Week

FRIDAY

Sabrina Ionescu and the then-No. 4 Ducks are ready to take on a top-10 opponent and rival in then-No. 7 Oregon State. On Oregon’s first possession, Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard do what they do best: a pick-and-roll at the top of the key, Ionescu dishes to a cutting Hebard that results in a bucket. This time, this assist, there was something else present: Ionescu passes Gary Payton and becomes the Pac-12 all-time leader in assists.

The Ducks went onto defeat their rival 76-64. Ionescu finished with 23 points, nine assists, and four rebounds.

SUNDAY

A different kind of emotion.

A visibly distraught Sabrina Ionescu took the court on Sunday afternoon an hour after hearing of Kobe Bryant’s passing. A close friend of hers and a big fan of the Oregon women’s basketball program.

Trying to collect herself to face the then-No. 7 Oregon State Beavers, her father Dan found her in the locker room and told her “Of all the times you worked with him, of all the phone calls, you deserve to play for him and his legacy. Go out and get it done today. Go out and play for Kobe.”

Ionescu finished with a team-high 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists to lead the Ducks past the Beavers 66-57. Oregon also broke the Corvallis curse and for the first time since the 2009-2010 season, the Ducks won in Gill Coliseum.

For the second straight week, Ionescu’s performance earned her Pac-12 Player of the Week honors.

This is the third time this season and eleventh in her career that Ionescu has earned this honor, good for second-most in league history. 

Portland selected as finalist for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four

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IMAGN

Portland selected as finalist for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four

Portland has been announced as a finalist for the 2025 or 2026 NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four, the NCAA announced this morning.

The bid process was handled collaboratively by Sport Oregon, Oregon State University, the Portland Trail Blazers, and Travel Portland. If the bid is successful, it would be the first time that Portland has hosted the Women’s Final Four.

The other three finalist cities in the running are Columbus, Phoenix, and Tampa.

“We are excited to be named a finalist for the Women’s Final Four, and look forward to the next steps in the process to make this a reality,” said Sport Oregon CEO Jim Etzel via a release from Sport Oregon. “We are tremendously fortunate to have such great bid partners, and a community that is incredibly supportive of women’s athletics.”

The Moda Center will again be hosting the 2020 Women’s Regional in March.

“Oregon State Athletics would like to thank Sport Oregon, the Portland Trail Blazers and Travel Portland for partnering with us in our goal to bring one of the most iconic NCAA Championship events to the Moda Center,” Beaver Vice President and Director of Athletics Scott Barnes said via the Sport Oregon release. “The record breaking success we experienced hosting the NCAA Regional last March and the awareness of the outstanding women’s basketball programs in this region have elevated the sport to new heights. We’re excited to further enhance our Strategic Plan objective to increase the Beaver brand in the Portland metro area.”

The group bidding on the event traveled to Indianapolis in December to make its’ formal presentation to the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee.

The next step is for the committee to conduct site tours of the finalist cities this summer and a final presentation will be made to the Committee in September, 2020.

An official decision for 2025 and 2026 for the Women’s Final Four will be made in October, 2020.

After sweeping the Civil War series, Ducks move up in the AP Poll

After sweeping the Civil War series, Ducks move up in the AP Poll

After an emotional, hard-fought weekend, the Oregon Ducks (17-2, 7-1 Pac-12) left victorious on both occasions over their rival Oregon State Beavers (16-4, 4-4 Pac-12).

Their reward? A No. 3 ranking by the Associated Press.

Previously, the Ducks had been ranked No. 4 heading into the back-to-back games against the then-No. 7 Beavers. After walking away from both contests the victor, Oregon showed they belong in a higher tier than their rivals from the north. 

The Beavers dropped to No. 10 after getting swept. 

Let's recap the weekend.

Versus No. 7 Oregon State: 

The Ducks opened up the Civil War weekend with a home game that they looked quite dominant in for stretches. 

After falling behind 10-2 early, the Ducks would storm back to take a 45-29 halftime advantage. The lead would get as high as 21 points in the fourth quarter before a late Beavers rally made things more interesting.

Sabrina Ionescu showed why she's the best player in college basketball by scoring 23 points along with four rebounds and nine assists; including two buzzer-beating three-pointers to end the first and third quarters. 

[RELATED: Instant Analysis: The Ducks break open the floodgates against the Beavers]

@ No. 7 Oregon State: 66-57 WIN

The Ducks persevered through one of the most emotional environments you'll ever see. Just an hour before tipoff, both teams learned that NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna tragically passed away. The loss especially affected Ionescu who had developed a relationship with both Bryants.

[RELATED: Sabrina Ionescu paying tribute to Kobe Bryant: “This season is for him”]

Her father told ESPN the advice he gave to his daughter before the contest. "Of all the times you worked with him, of all the phone calls. You deserve to play for him and his legacy. Go out and do it today. Go out and play for Kobe."

She did just that, playing all 40 minutes and putting up 19 points and grabbing eight rebounds. After the game, she told ESPN that this season is for Kobe. 

NEXT: Now Oregon looks ahead to traveling east to play Utah on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. PT, then Colorado on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. PT, before traveling to play No. 4 Connecticut on Monday at 4:00 p.m. PT. 

Oregon men's basketball team moves up in latest AP Poll

Oregon men's basketball team moves up in latest AP Poll

The Ducks are ascending once again.

After sweeping the Los Angeles schools at Matthew Knight Arena this past weekend, the Ducks moved up one spot to No. 11 in the Associated Press Poll.

Oregon (17-4, 6-2 Pac-12) entered the weekend ranked No. 12 after losing in Pullman and narrowly defeating Washington in overtime. 

What's better than one overtime? Two overtimes.

Versus USC: 79-70 2OT WIN

The Ducks outlasted the Trojans in a war of attrition Thursday night winning in double-overtime. Guard Payton Pritchard became the first player in Pac-12 history to record 1,500+ points, 600+ assists, and 500+ rebounds in a career. To defeat the Trojans, he scored 24 points, dished out seven assists and got two steals.  

[RELATED: Instant Analysis: Payton Pritchard sets record, Chris Duarte balls out in win over USC]

However, it was guard Chris Duarte that led Oregon to victory recording one of the more wild stat lines you'll see this season: 30 points, 11 rebounds, and EIGHT steals. Duarte and Pritchard scored all of Oregon's points in double overtime. 

[RELATED: Chris Duarte’s 30 points wasn’t the best part of his game vs. USC]

Versus UCLA: 96-75 WIN

After a stressful win over the Trojans, the Ducks cruised to the program's largest victory over UCLA since 2003, winning 96-75 at Matthew Knight Arena. The Bruins turned the ball over a season-high 23 times, including 15 Oregon steals. Duarte had six of those by himself to go along with 24 points. 

UP NEXT: Oregon travels to Berkeley to play the California Golden Bears (9-10, 3-3 Pac-12) at 6:00 p.m. PT on Thursday, before traveling to Palo Alto to play Stanford (15-4, 4-2 Pac-12) at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. 

Family members of former Oregon baseball player J.J. Altobelli among victims of helicopter crash

Family members of former Oregon baseball player J.J. Altobelli among victims of helicopter crash

In a tragic helicopter crash that resulted in nine dead, amongst Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, the parents and sister of former Oregon baseball great J.J. Altobelli (2010-2012).

John was the current head baseball coach at Orange Coast County and the former coach of the Brewster Whitecaps, where J.J. played in the summer of 2011.

“John meant so much to not only Orange Coast College, but to baseball,” says Coast Athletic Director Jason Kehler. “He truly personified what it means to be a baseball coach. The passion that he put into the game, but more importantly his athletes, was second to none - he treated them like family. Our deepest condolences go out to the Altobelli family during this time of tragedy.”

According to the Orange Coast College website: Altobelli led the Pirates to numerous conference and state championship titles, notching more than 700 wins during his career and four state championships. In 2019, he was honored by the American Baseball Coaches Association as an ABCA/Diamond National Coach of the Year, a testament to his incredible work ethic and passion for the game.

Alyssa was basketball teammates with Gianna on Kobe’s team.

J.J. is a current scout for the Boston Red Sox.

Our hearts are with you, Altobelli family!

Sabrina Ionescu paying tribute to Kobe Bryant: “This season is for him”

Sabrina Ionescu paying tribute to Kobe Bryant: “This season is for him”

There wasn’t a dry eye on the court. No. 4 Oregon and No. 7 Oregon State met at half court ahead of a 1 p.m. (PT) tip-off at Gill Coliseum.

The huddle was to pray. To pray as one for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Maria, who had passed in a helicopter roughly an hour before tip-off.

For the man who had a signature move that most tried to copy off and on the court, stepping back and yelling “Kobe!”, today the world mourns and celebrates you and your daughter Gianna Maria.

There was one player who was not on the court for warm ups: Sabrina Ionescu. Surrounded by head coach Kelly Graves, associate coach Mark Campbell, her family, senior associate athletic director Lisa Peterson and senior guard Minyon Moore, Ionescu tried to collect herself.

Sabrina and Kobe have struck a connection and real friendship these past fews years. Kobe attended Oregon’s games when the Ducks were in Southern California to play USC; he came up to Long Beach State on December 14, 2019; he has critiqued Sabrina’s game on his show ‘Detail’ and has supported women’s sports and women’s basketball.

In her letter to The Players Tribune back on April 6, 2019, when Sabrina announced she would forgo the WNBA Draft and return to Oregon for her senior season, Ionescu wrote about Kobe:

"And as I kept watching that video over and over, again and again — there’s two main thoughts that were going through my head. One: Kobe got me. He just nailed my game, dead to rights. He was analyzing my pick-and-roll, pointing out specific plays where I should have finished with my left hand instead of my right….. the whole deal. Every analysis was so spot on. It was like seeing genius at work."

This one hit a little deeper for Ionescu.

She paid tribute to Mamba and his daughter with “Forever 24” written on her shoes today.

It was difficult. Sabrina never did go out and warm up. It was touch and go. I know her family was there trying to help her through it. It’s like losing a family member. And I know every body is touched in some way or inspired by Kobe Bryant but it really hit home to this team. — head coach Kelly Graves

Ionescu trotted out with the Ducks with 12 minutes and 34 seconds until tip-off.

There was a moment of silence for Kobe before the national anthem. In front of a sold out crowd at Gill Coliseum, some were hearing the news for the first time. The only thing you could hear in the entire arena was the soft hum of the air conditioning unit. 

Sitting two rows behind the Oregon bench, sporting a #20 Nike green Ionescu jersey, was Sabrina’s father. In an interview before the game with ESPN, he told reporters the advice he gave to Sabrina:

Of all the times you worked with him, of all the phone calls. You deserve to play for him and his legacy. Go out and do it today. Go out and play for Kobe. — Ionescu’s father.

And she did. And the Ducks did.

For the first time in the Kelly Graves and Sabrina Ionescu era at Oregon, the Ducks have won in Corvallis over the Oregon State Beavers. 

The trio of senior Sabrina Ionescu, senior Ruthy Hebard and junior Satou Sabally combined for 48 of Oregon 66 total points. It was a first half that needed every bit of these three. Ionescu finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Hebard with another double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds. And Sabally with 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

The Ducks found themselves down at halftime, 37-34 to the Beavers. Graves went with more of a defensive lineup in the third quarter: Jaz Shelley, Taylor Chavez, Sabrina Ionescu, Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard. With these five on the floor, Oregon held a 12-0 run and held the Beavers scoreless for seven minutes in the fourth quarter. Oregon finished the quarter holding Oregon State to only eight points on 3-of-12 from the field and 1-of-5 from three-point range.

A big part of the third quarter was Oregon State senior point guard Mikayla Pivec picking up her fourth personal foul. Pivec was a huge spark for the Beavers on both ends of the court, but picking up her fourth foul forced her to switch her game and play more cautiously.

This third quarter spark was enough to lift No. 4 Oregon (17-2, 7-1 Pac-12) past No. 7 Oregon State (16-4, 4-4 Pac-12) 66-57 in Gill Coliseum.

But the win is bittersweet on a day where a role model and friend had passed.

I’m proud of the team who stepped up for their sister Sabrina and helped her. — Graves

At some point, every one of her teammates came up and said to Sabrina, “We’re going to do this for you.”

When the game clock hit 00:00, the emotions flooded back in. A visibly sad Ionescu made her way through a two-question post game interview with ESPN before heading the locker room and eventually back to Eugene.

I mean, everything I do, I do it for him obviously. Really close friend and this season’s for him. — Sabrina Ionescu

With a heavy heart and watery eyes, this season is for Mamba.