If the first week of the 2019-20 season is any indication, the Oregon Ducks look like they might actually exceed the preseason expectations.
A week after being ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press’ poll for the first time in school history and on a football Saturday in early November, Oregon made national headlines by defeating Team USA, 93-86 in a historic upset in front of a sold out home crowd for the exhibition game. In doing so, Oregon became just the second collegiate team to ever beat Team USA, joining Tennessee, who accomplished the feat back in 1999.
All-American Sabrina Ionescu led the Ducks in the upset with 30 points, with 25 points coming in the second half. A year ago, Ionescu led Oregon to their first ever Women’s Final Four appearance, and is already the NCAA all-time leader in triple-doubles, regardless of gender. She added seven assists and four rebounds against Team USA. Satou Sabally scored 25 points, while forward Ruthy Hebard added 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, battling Team USA’s Sylvia Fowles in the paint.
Led by 20 points from Ionescu in the third quarter alone, Oregon took a one-point lead into the final period, before a three-point barrage by Ionescu and Satou Sabally put the game away. The play of Sabally was key down the stretch. Her back-to-back threes forced a Team USA timeout, she followed with another bucket to cap an 11-0 run that put Oregon up 81-69. Sabally scored again after Team USA got within five, putting the Ducks up 85-78, and again for an 87-80 lead, and yet again for an 89-84 advantage with just 35 seconds left in the game.
Battling against a letdown, Oregon opened its regular season with an 89-47 victory over Northeastern on Monday before 8,253 fans in Matthew Knight Arena.
Senior Hebard led the way with 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting from the floor, while junior Lydia Giomi had a breakout game with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting as the Ducks wore down the Huskies inside on the way to victory. Ionescu added 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Sabally was absent for the first of three games she'll miss while playing for the German national team, and Giomi took advantage of the available minutes, including in a look that featured both her and Hebard on the floor together.
Oregon will next host Utah St. on Nov. 13 in Eugene.