Ducks, Ionescu have the look of possible champs
After the worst defeat of her 33-year career as Stanford’s head coach, Tara VanDerveer likened Oregon to “a train going down the track very fast.”
The No. 3 Ducks ran over the No. 11 Cardinal 88-48 on Sunday in the second-worst home loss in Stanford women’s basketball history. The worst was a 96-51 decision to Long Beach State in 1983.
Stanford was hoping to knock off a top-10 team for the fourth time this season. Instead, the Cardinal were taken to school before a stunned crowd of 5,250 at Maples Pavilion.
“We knew coming in that we’d have to play an ‘A’ game on offense and an ‘A’ game on defense,” VanDerveer said. “It wasn’t an ‘A,’ ‘B’ or ‘C’ game on offense or defense.”
The Ducks, who count Stephen Curry, LeBron James and Kobe Bryant among their fans on social media, looked every bit like a team that could win a national championship.
Sabrina Ionescu staged her own personal basketball clinic, compiling 27 points and nine rebounds. The MiramonteOrinda alum said she loves coming back to the Bay Area but said she didn’t anticipate a blowout win.
“I know that we’re capable of it,” she said. “I thought if we would be able to stop them defensively and get them out of their rhythm, that we’d be able to score however we wanted offensively.”
Oregon head coach Kelly Graves called it “an amazing effort. That’s what it takes to beat a great team like Stanford.”
More precisely, that’s what it takes to beat Stanford by 40.
In snapping Stanford’s 22game home winning streak with a vengeance, the Ducks (23-1, 12-0 Pac-12) had too much for the Cardinal (19-4, 9-3) in every department and won their 16th straight game, the longest active streak in the country.
Ruthy Hebard added 18 points and eight rebounds for Oregon, and Erin Boley scored 12 points.
DiJonai Carrington scored 13 points to lead the Cardinal, who shot 32 percent. None of her teammates reached double figures. Alanna Smith made just 3 of 14 field-goal tries — 0-for-5 from long range — and finished with six points, 15 below her average.
The Ducks have the most potent offense in the country, leading the NCAA in points per game (90.3), field-goal percentage (52.5) and 3-point-shooting percentage (42.9) coming into the game. On Sunday, they showed why.
They hit 57 percent of their shots from the floor and went 12-for-16 from beyond the arc. They piled up their points while taking just five foul shots, making four.
“We put five kids that can score on the floor pretty much the entire game,” Graves said. “It’s hard to defend us a lot of nights.” He also called it the team’s best defensive performance of the season.
Stanford has “Final Four potential,” he said. “They always seem to be playing their best basketball in March.”
VanDerveer pointed out that Notre Dame recovered from a 100-67 loss to Louisville last season and won the national title. She said her players are resilient.
“I think they’ll take it personally, which I hope we will,” she said.
Oregon extended its winning streak to 16 games, the longest in the country.
Until the defeat, Stanford had beaten Oregon 29 straight times at Maples since winning the first matchup between the two schools there in 1987.
“I had no idea of that,” Ionescu said. “I don’t think we’ve ever talked about that. It was going to be just another game for us that we were going to have to come in and take care of business.”
She said she has “absolutely no idea” whether she’ll turn pro after this season, despite media speculation that she would be the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft.
“I’m focusing on what we’re building here, and I think everyone on the coaching staff and my teammates know I’m 100 percent dialed into this game and this team,” she said.
She estimated her cheering section at “100 fans” from her former high school and club teams, family and friends.
Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu outrebounds Stanford’s Maya Dodson during the second quarter of the Ducks’ 88-48 rout at Maples Pavilion. It was the Cardinal’s worst home loss since 1983.