Eugene, OR – For 20 years the USA Women’s National Basketball team had not lost to a college team. That streak is now over as the No. 1-rated Oregon Ducks rocked Matthew Knight Arena and 11.530 fans in a 93-86 upset victory. The last time the USAWNT lost to a college team was to Pat Summit’s legendary 1999 Tennessee squad.
While the National Team were missing some big names (Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner, Breanna Stewart) and others who are either playing overseas or recovering from injuries. they still fielded WNBA legends Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Nnemkadi Ogwumike, Sylvia Fowles and others. With all those professional all-stars on the court the best player was the Ducks’ Sabrina Ionescu.
Ionescu scored 30 points, including 20 in the third quarter, and added seven assists and four rebounds in the win. She scored to give Oregon a 68-67 lead at the close of the third quarter and nailed a 35-foot jumper at the end of the shot clock early in the fourth quarter to extend the Ducks’ lead to 73-69. The USA team had no one who could effectively guard her.
Satou Sabally picked up her scoring in the second half. She added 16 second half points, including two key three-pointers as she scored 25 points on the night to go along with six rebounds. At 6-4 Sabally has the skill set of a guard while also being able to play inside. While Ionescu will obviously be the No. 1 pick in next years’ WNBA Draft, Sabally figures to also be a top 5 pick if she elects to go pro.
The third piece of the Ducks’ All-American trio, Ruthy Hebard, added 18 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds. The USA team had difficulty defending Hebard on pick-and-rolls. Hebard helped Oregon to a 34-29 rebounding edge over the taller National Team, including a 12-6 edge on the offensive boards. Minyon Moore, the USC grad-transfer, added 10 points and three assists in 25 minutes, She played tough and was unfazed going against the big names of the USA team.
Ogwumike led the visitors with 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting and 14 rebounds as she played a game-high 38 minutes. Taurasi added 17 points, connecting on 4-of-9 three-pointers. Fowles scored 11 points but was limited to 15 minutes of action due to foul trouble and eventually fouled out.
Ionescu only had five points at the half as Oregon trailed 42-38. At one point Oregon was down by 11 points. Hebard and Sabally kept the Ducks in the game scoring 23 of Oregon’s 38 points. Hebard had 13 points and nine rebounds at the break. The second half was a different story as Ionescu took control of the contest, scoring 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting and ultimately scoring to tie the game or give Oregon the lead on eight different occasions.
Oregon returns to the court Monday afternoon for their official season opener against Northeastern, a WNIT team last year. They will be without Sabally who will miss the first three games of the year as she returns to her native Germany to play for their National Team.