Senior point guard played for Trojans last three years before transfer to UO
The stars were shining bright for No. 3 Oregon on Friday night in Los Angeles.
Sabrina Ionescu became the fifth player in NCAA women’s basketball history to reach 1,000 career assists and only the second player, man or woman, to have over 2,000 career points and 1,000 career assists.
The reigning national player of the year’s longtime running mate, Ruthy Hebard, finished with 30 points and 17 rebounds during the Ducks’ 80-66 victory over No. 7 UCLA.
Now it’s time for the team’s other senior to step into the spotlight.
Minyon Moore, who transferred to Oregon after three years at USC, will face her old team when the Ducks play the Trojans on Sunday at the Galen Center (1 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
“It’s a weird feeling, I guess, just because I’m going back to my old stomping grounds,” Moore said. “I’m actually really excited just because of the opportunity. I get to be able to go back to USC and play in the gym I played in for three years.
“So it’s a lot of mixed emotions. I love USC and now I’m merging my new school and my old school. It will be awesome.”
Moore compiled 1,173 points, 450 assists and 221 steals in 89 career games with the Trojans.
The dynamic point guard was an honorable mention all-Pac-12 selection last season after averaging 14.8 points, 5.9 assists and 5.5 rebounds.
Moore, who was clearly the best player the Trojans had the past two seasons, has adapted to being another key cog in the Oregon machine.
The Ducks (23-2, 12-1) are well on their way to winning a third consecutive Pac-12 regular-season championship with the long-term goal of cutting down the nets at the Final Four.
“It’s really different coming from a team where I was kind of the focus point and I had to do what I had to do every single game to be able to help the team try to get a win,” Moore said. “I knew coming here was going to be a lesser role, but it’s cool for me. I know what my teammates do what they have to do and I do what I have to do.
“And we still win.”
Moore’s scoring average (7.8 points per game at Oregon) has been cut almost in half this season. But she has led a dramatic turnaround on the defensive end, which has sparked the team’s 11-game winning streak.
During the victory over UCLA — the Ducks’ ninth victory over a ranked opponent this season — Moore led the team in plus/minus differential at +19 in 31 minutes, 15 seconds of playing time.
“Everyone on our team can score,” Moore noted. “Sometimes your shots aren’t falling, and I have a small role in terms of I don’t have to produce 25 points per game to get a win or help my team win. I have other players on my team that can do that.
“So it’s just kind of impacting the game where I can.”
Moore leads the team with 44 steals and is second in assists with 102 behind NCAA leader Ionescu (213). The two senior guards played together on a club team growing up in the Bay Area.
“She is a great offensive player,” Moore said of competing against college basketball’s all-time triple-double leader. “So I get to have that practice for when we play great point guards in the league.”
UCLA’s Japreece Dean, who finished with 14 points on 5-for-13 shooting (1-for-6 on 3-pointers) with four turnovers against Oregon, was the latest in a long line of talented point guards to struggle opposite Moore.
“Last year I had to help the guards more,” Hebard said. “This year, I remember our first few days at practice (Moore) was like, ‘I got it, I got it.’ I was like, OK, what am I supposed to do now? …
“This year with Minyon helping us, especially on the defensive end, I think we’ve become a much better defensive team.”
Oregon has outscored the opposition by an average of 25.5 points during this winning streak.
The Trojans (13-11, 5-8), coming off a 72-66 victory over No. 11 Oregon State, don’t plan on making Moore’s homecoming easy.
Freshman Alissa Pili led the upset with 26 points. Only three of Moore’s former teammates are still on the USC roster.
“I don’t think it’s going to faze her at all being back home. She’s in her element there,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said. “ I think she’s proud that she’s a Duck. I also think she’s proud that she was a Trojan for three years and did great things there. I don’t think anybody has any ill will towards her for leaving. That’s not always the case. I think they were happy for her for the reason why she was leaving.
“She knew she could have an impact on a team that had a chance of winning the national championship. And with all due respect to USC, they’re not in that position right now.”
Oregon leads No. 8 Stanford by one game in the Pac-12 standings with a matchup against the Cardinal (22-3, 11-2) looming on Feb. 24.
But Moore isn’t going to let her new team overlook USC on the road to the championship.
“Without those three years, I wouldn’t be the player that I am,” Moore said. “I learned so much and I got to be myself and grow as a person, not only on the basketball court, but also off the court getting my education, getting my undergrad there.
“It’s amazing and now everything is coming along here. My goals in my initial decision to come here are all coming true. It’s all working out.”
Follow Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @RGDuckFootball and email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com.