Two years ago, the Oregon women’s basketball team was desperate for a Pac-12 win when it made the trip to the Bay Area.
The Ducks were 0-3 in conference play and moments away from falling to 0-4 before scoring eight points in the final 12 seconds to stun California.
Sabrina Ionescu, who was returning to the lineup from a broken thumb, made a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer to cap the miraculous 69-66 win over the then-No. 20 Bears.
Now No. 3 Oregon will try to remain unbeaten in Pac-12 play when it visits Cal on Friday night at Haas Pavilion (8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
The Ducks (21-1, 10-0) increased the nation’s longest active winning streak to 14 with last Sunday’s 102-43 dismantling of Colorado.
“I still go through pictures on my phone and see the picture and go over the video and just see that win that we had there and how excited we all were,” Ionescu said. “So hopefully it doesn’t get down to that final play, but good memories there so far.”
Ionescu, who is from Walnut Creek, Calif., expects to have between 50 and 60 family, friends and former club and high school teammates in the stands cheering her on.
The reigning Pac-12 player of the year will share the court with the top threat to the crown. Cal senior Kristine Anigwe is averaging 22.4 points and an NCAA-leading 15.6 rebounds per game.
When Anigwe scores her first two points against the Ducks she will break a tie with Colleen Galloway atop the program’s career scoring list.
“When you look at how you have to attack them, she’s the number one priority. And maybe number two and number three,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “She’s that good and playing really well right now. I’m looking at 18 rebounds a game in league. That’s more than Ruthy (Hebard) and Satou (Sabally) combined on our side.
“We’ve got a tall task but we’ll be ready.”
Hebard is averaging 16.9 points and 9.3 rebounds this season. During Oregon’s 82-74 win over Mississippi State on Dec. 18, the junior forward held dominant 6-foot-6 center Teaira McCowan to five points and 11 rebounds.
“Ruthy has got to have a great game against (Anigwe). She did a great job on McCowan when Mississippi State was in town,” Graves said. “But it’s not just one player. She’s so good you’ve got to help, you’ve got to disguise your defenses, maybe double team from time to time.”
Anigwe, a relentless 6-4 power forward with a delicate shooting touch, has posted a double-double in every game this season. She averaged 22.5 points and 22.0 points during Cal’s split with rival Stanford last week.
“We have to take care of their best player and one of the best players in the country. Kristine Anigwe is having a crazy year,” Ionescu said. “She’s 20 and 20 almost every game now when you look at it.
“We have to make sure we take her out of the game and make other players make plays they’re not used to making.”
The talented but inconsistent Bears (14-7, 5-5) played UConn tough at home this season but are a disappointing seventh in the conference standings.
Oregon enters the weekend one game ahead of Oregon State and two games clear of No. 11 Stanford in the regular-season race. The Ducks play the Cardinal on Sunday seeking for their first win in Maples Pavilion since March 5, 1987.
“We’re not looking ahead to the second game on this trip,” Graves said. “It’s all about Cal.”
In Pac-12 play, the defending champions lead the conference in points (86.1 per game) and points allowed (59.4 per game).
“If we take care of these two games we’re in a good position and exactly where we want to be,” Ionescu said. “If we don’t then we’re back in the race with the other teams. These are not going to be quote, unquote, boring games for us, like some of the games we’ve been playing.
“Both teams are going to come out and give us their best game and they’re going to push us and make us fight adversity. However we handle that is going to be the outcome of the game.”