Ducks' path to Final Four goes through Portland Regional
STANFORD, Calif. — There was only one aspect of No. 3 Oregon’s momentous weekend in the Bay Area that Kelly Graves didn’t enjoy.
Being asked about the basketball program’s 29-game losing streak at Maples Pavilion seemed to stick in the coach’s craw.
Graves and the Duck women (23-1, 12-0 Pac-12) are more forward thinkers.
“What they’ve done in the years before these kids were born, who cares?” Graves said Sunday after Oregon won at Stanford for the first time since 1987. “We don’t talk about it, we talk about this game. We didn’t even talk about this game until (Saturday). That’s all I ever care about.
“Tara (VanDerveer) has probably beaten me 100 times in a row. The 101st game is the one we’re worried about.”
Actually, the Ducks also beat Stanford in the Pac-12 Tournament championship game last season.
But to Graves’ point, VanDerveer rarely loses. In fact, Oregon’s 88-48 shellacking of the Cardinal was the worst defeat the legendary coach has suffered in 33 seasons at Stanford.
“It was a train going down the tracks really fast,” VanDerveer said of the Ducks’ runway victory.
Sabrina Ionescu earned Pac-12 player of the week honors after averaging 27.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists during the dominant sweep of California and Stanford.
The junior guard from Walnut Creek, Calif., was 22-for-36 (62.9 percent) shooting from the field, including 6-for-8 (75 percent) on 3-pointers, playing in front of a large contingent of family and friends.
“We played absolutely excellent this weekend, both on the offensive and the defensive end,” Ionescu said. “I think it’s something that we needed as we’re going to continue through Pac-12 play and on forward.”
Oregon received three first-place votes in the Associated Press poll released Monday but remained third behind Baylor (22 first-place votes) and Louisville (three first-place votes), one spot ahead of UConn.
More importantly, the Ducks are a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament selection committee’s first reveal of its top 16 seeds on Monday.
Oregon, which extended the nation’s longest active winning streak to 16 games with style points at Stanford, is on track to host first- and second-round games in Eugene with a chance to advance to the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games at Moda Center in Portland.
The selection committee’s top four seeds in the Portland Regional are No. 1 Oregon, No. 2 North Carolina State, No. 3 Iowa and No. 4 Gonzaga.
Baylor (Greensboro Regional), Louisville (Chicago) and Mississippi State (Albany) are the other No. 1 seeds.
Oregon, which is 5-0 against ranked opponents this season, faces No. 9 Oregon State on Friday at Matthew Knight Arena (6 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
The Beavers (20-4, 10-2), who will host the Ducks next Monday, enter the back-to-back Civil War matchups in second place in the conference and are slotted as the No. 3 seed in the Albany Regional by the selection committee.
Despite the humbling loss to the Ducks, Stanford is penciled in as the No. 2 seed in the Chicago Regional.
“I mean, I had no idea about that. I don’t think we’ve ever talked about that necessarily,” Ionescu said when asked about leading Oregon to the streak-busting win at Maples Pavilion. “It was just going to be another game for us that we needed to come in and take care of business.
“A win on the road is always great, especially coming in here against a top-10 potential Final Four contender, is something we needed to get done and did.”