On Jan. 8, 2017, the Ducks were 0-3 in Pac-12 play and coming off an 81-60 beating at Stanford.
And then Sabrina Ionescu hit the game-winning 3-pointer as the horn sounded to slay then-No. 20 California.
The flailing Oregon women’s basketball program was suddenly powered by super freshmen and on the fast track to realizing coach Kelly Graves’ vision.
“It got us going,” Graves recalled of the memorable comeback three years ago in Berkeley, Calif. “Anytime you get a win like that when your best player makes that shot, I think that gave us belief in ourselves and her.
“It started a magical run, really.”
The Ducks (24-2, 13-1), who are closing in on their third consecutive Pac-12 title, play the last-place Bears (10-15, 2-12) on Friday at Haas Pavilion (6 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
No. 3 Oregon will wrap up the final regular-season road trip at No. 4 Stanford on Monday at Maples Pavilion (6 p.m., ESPN2).
“We haven’t even talked Stanford and won’t until Saturday,” Graves said. “So we’re only talking about Cal. That’s the only thing we’re worried about because that’s what is ahead of us. We’ve got to realize every game counts the same.
“If we don’t take care of business at Cal it doesn’t matter what we do at Stanford.”
Graves’ team has been extremely focused during its 12-game winning streak, which has included seven road wins by an average of 21.3 points.
There are some distractions for the Ducks to deal with while in the Bay Area.
Ionescu will attend the memorial for Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles on Monday before rejoining the team for the nationally-televised game at Stanford that night.
Junior forward Satou Sabally announced shortly before the team’s flight that she was leaving Oregon after the season to enter the WNBA draft.
The status of Taylor Chavez, arguably the conference’s best bench player, is questionable due to a foot injury.
“We’ve put ourselves into a position,” Graves said of the Ducks’ quest to win the outright Pac-12 title and lock up the No. 1 seed in the Portland Regional of the NCAA Tournament. “We still have to go out and finish it.”
The Bears are 0-8 at home in Pac-12 play but are coming off an 88-74 road win at Utah.
Cal, which only committed nine turnovers in Salt Lake City, was led by freshman Cailyn Crocker’s 26 points.
Oregon won the first meeting 105-55 in Eugene. The Ducks’ starters shot 73% from the field collectively and all scored in double figures, led Sabally’s 31 points.
Erin Boley was 6-for-8 on 3-pointers and finished with 22 points. The junior forward was 7-for-12 behind the arc and finished with a team-high 25 points during Oregon’s 93-67 win last Sunday at USC.
“My teammates and coaches have had confidence in me all along,” said Boley, who endured a rare shooting slump this season. “Every game I come into I am just focused on contributing what I can do. It just so happens I had shots falling the last couple games.
“I think as a whole we’re starting to get into a rhythm and everybody is starting to bring positive things to the table.”
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