Big time players make big time plays in big time games. In one of the biggest games of her young career, Oregon sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu had a little "twinkle in her eye", according to Oregon coach Kelly Graves, coming into tonight's Pac-12 tournament finals vs. the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal. Ionescu went off for a career high and Pac-12 championship record 36 points to lead the No. 1 Oregon Ducks past the Cardinal 77-57 in Seattle, WA.
This is the Ducks' first ever Pac-12 tournament championship in program history.
Over the last 12 months— Oregon Women’s Basketball (@OregonWBB) March 5, 2018
- 1st NCAA trip since 2005
- 1st Sweet 16
- 1st Elite Eight
- Best ranking in UO history (6)
- Most wins in a season
- Most league wins in a season
- 1st Pac-12 regular season title since 2000
- 1st ever Pac-12 Tournament title#GoDucks pic.twitter.com/LEZcetQp3e
Graves said on Ionescu, "I tell you, when you have somebody like Sabrina, she shines the brightest in the biggest moments, and she sure did that tonight. It's a part of her competitive greatness."
What was the key to success? Rewind to the beginning of February, and the Ducks had just suffered their second conference loss to the Cardinal at home at Matthew Knight Arena. Tonight, it was a different story and some "unfinished business" to attend to.
"I thought our energy was great, we were active, our feet and our hands were active," said Graves. "We didn't get out and trap much but I just thought we were on point and dialed in. We decided to play them outside-in to try to take away that three-point game the best we could, make them make baskets around the hoop and we did that."
Ionescu, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, finished with 36 points shooting 14-of-24 from the field, four rebounds, four assists, and four steals. The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Satou Sabally recorded 12 points hitting 3-of-5 from three-point range. Sophomore forward Ruthy Hebard was one rebound shy of another double-double and finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. Junior guard Maite Cazorla finished with 10 points and six assists.