Sabrina Ionescu is still mourning the end of Oregon’s NCAA Tournament run.

The loss to Notre Dame in the Elite Eight lingers and serves as motivation for the ultra-competitive Ionescu, who is determined to lead the Ducks to the Final Four for the first time.

But a little over a month removed from the disappointing regional final result, the face of the women's basketball program is smiling again.

Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard, Erin Boley and Oti Gildon won the gold medal at the USA Basketball 3x3 national championshipApril 22. The Ducks cruised through the 12-team tournament at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., with an 8-0 record.

That was a surprise to USA Basketball, which is still expected to send its dream team — Notre Dame’s Aike Ogunbowale, California’s Kristine Anigwe, UConn’s Napheesa Collier and Louisville’s Asia Durr — to the FIBA 3x3 World Cup this summer in Manila, Philippines.

“It brought back that competitive nature that we haven’t had since the season,” Ionescu said before a recent weight lifting session at Matthew Knight Arena. “You’ll have open gyms and workouts, but it’s nothing like competing for a gold medal. So that definitely brought out that edge in us.

“I think we want the season to start already because we’re excited.”

Before the tournament, Ionescu didn’t even know the 3x3 rules, which include a 10-minute clock, a 12-second shot clock and scoring by ones (inside the traditional three-point arc) and twos (outside the three-point arc) up to 21 points.

“I just asked the director right before one of our games, ‘Hey, what are the rules?’” Ionescu said. “She kind of told me the basics, then I just learned as I went.”

At the end of the tournament, Ionescu was named the most valuable player.

“That’s impressive,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “They beat pros, they beat the hand-picked USA team. I think these guys are motivated, they’re hungry.”

Ionescu and Hebard attended the Final Four in Columbus, Ohio, where the sophomore stars were named the national point guard and power forward of the year, respectively. The dynamic duo also witnessed Notre Dame's stunning wins over UConn and Mississippi State on buzzer-beaters by Ogunbowale en route to the national championship.

“I think it just made us want to get there even more,” Ionescu said of the experience. “It was nice getting the honors, but it sucked being around the players that were just coming back from practice.

“We definitely wish we were there playing, but it gave us good insight on what it’s like and how we’re going to get there next year.”

Watching the Irish cut down the nets made Oregon’s 84-74 defeat on March 26 even tougher to digest for Ionescu and Hebert.

“It’s for sure harder because I think we had that game and we let our youth and certain things get us out of that game,” Ionescu said. “But we were in it, we were up 11, so I think we had a good chance. Everything happens for a reason. I think we learned from it a lot and we’ll come back a lot better this year.”

Oregon returns four starters — Ionescu, Hebard, steady all-conference guard Maite Cazorla and reigning Pac-12 freshman of the year Satou Sabally — from last season’s Pac-12 championship squad. The Ducks welcome two incoming recruits, guard Taylor Chavez and forward Nyra Sabally (Satou's younger sister), this summer.

Boley, a versatile 6-foot-2 sophomore, who sat out last season after transferring from Notre Dame, was the Gatorade national high school player of the year in 2016 when Ionescu was the USA Today national high school player of the year.

“She had like 15 of our 21 points in one of the games. She just got hot, and we kept feeding her,” Ionescu said of her chemistry with Boley during the 3x3 tournament. “It doesn’t matter who’s scoring, as long as we’re winning we’re all happy and on the same page. … I’m excited for her. She’s waited her time and she’s put in a lot of work in the weight room and on the court with us. So I think it’s going to be a huge year for her and for us.”

In addition to losing guards Lexi Bando and Justine Hall to graduation, three bench players — freshman guard Aina Ayuso, freshman forward Anneli Maley and sophomore forward Sierra Campisano — have decided not to return to Oregon.

Graves recently spoke with Geno Auriemma about the increasing numbers of transfers in women’s basketball. The UConn coach told him it comes with the territory once a program evolves to the point where it attracts a roster full of elite recruits.

“I’m disappointed with all of them (for leaving), but I get it,” Graves said. “This day and age they want to play, so I understand it. … We’re not going to turn our back on them. They were a part of a heck of a run with us.”

Ayuso (Spain) and Maley (Australia) are returning to their home countries to pursue professional opportunities. Campisano, a touted 2016 recruit, plans to transfer at the end of the spring term and is still working out with the Ducks.

“They were great for us,” Ionescu said. “Everyone on the team was just as important as our starting five. They had big roles and they played key positions for us. We want what’s best for them, so if they want to go somewhere and play more, then that’s what is going to be best for them. But we think no differently of them. We were happy that they were a part of it.

“We’re going to take whoever we have and we’re going to build with whoever we have coming in and whoever stays.”

Oregon’s 2018-19 nonconference schedule is highlighted by a road game at Michigan State and a home game with back-to-back national runner-up Mississippi State. Graves said he hopes to add two more Power Five opponents to the slate but is having trouble finding any takers.

The Ducks will likely be a preseason top-five team and the heavy Pac-12 favorite when practices resume in October.

“I don’t think we’re going to lose a lot of games next year,” Ionescu said. “I know I’m going to hold myself accountable and the team accountable. I think we’re going to do even better than we did this year. We’re training a lot harder than we ever have, even in spring workouts our coaches are pushing us like we’re about to play in a Final Four. The workouts are hard and competitive.

“I think everyone understands what we are able to accomplish and what we’re about to accomplish.”