Sabrina Ionescu, No. 3 Oregon Ducks have extra 'fuel' to burn at No. 4 Stanford
Sabrina Ionescu may lead the nation in assists, but the Ducks’ star is not in a sharing mood when it comes to the conference title race and the NCAA record book.
No. 3 Oregon faces its final road block on the way to a third consecutive outright Pac-12 championship in No. 4 Stanford on Monday at Maples Pavilion (6 p.m., ESPN2).
The Ducks (25-2, 14-1) have won 13 consecutive games by an average margin of victory of 26.1 points entering the nationally-televised showdown.
The Cardinal (24-3, 13-2) is still in position to share the regular-season conference title if Tara VanDerveer’s team can pull off the upset.
Ionescu scored a career-high 37 points in Oregon’s 87-55 win over Stanford on Jan. 16 at Matthew Knight Arena.
"Game in and game out that I've played them in my career, that's who I want to beat,” Ionescu, who is from Walnut Creek, Calif., said after the first meeting. “Especially coming from the Bay Area and growing up with them in my backyard and then choosing to leave and come here, it's awesome to be able to play them."
Ionescu can do more than beat the Cardinal on Monday.
With nine rebounds against Stanford, the reigning national player of the year would become the first player in NCAA history, regardless of gender, to have 2,000 points 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds in a career.
“I don't think there's been a player like her in a long time, if ever,” current WNBA point guard and former Gonzaga star Courtney Vandersloot, the only other player with 2,000 points and 1,000 assists, said of Ionescu. “You can just tell she has a total feel for the game. She's a playmaker. To have 1,000 rebounds, for any player, is difficult. To have 2,000 points is difficult.
“So to do everything that she's doing, and to do it all, it's just remarkable.”
Regardless of the outcome, it’s going to be an emotional homecoming for Ionescu, who will speak at the Kobe and Gianna Bryant memorial in Los Angeles before rejoining the team at Stanford.
“She'll use it as fuel,” coach Kelly Graves said. “It wouldn't surprise me if she has a game for the ages that night, because that's how she's wired.”
Ionescu is averaging 18.1 points, 8.3 rebounds and 9.1 assists during the streak.
The senior point guard recorded the 25th triple-double of her career with 17 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds during Friday’s 93-61 win at California.
Erin Boley knocked down eight 3-pointers for 24 points, Ruthy Hebard had 20 points and 15 rebounds and Satou Sabally added 16 points as the Ducks improved to 10-1 on the road this season.
Stanford is coming off a 63-60 victory over No. 15 Oregon State.
Kiana Williams scored 24 points and made two key baskets in the final two minutes to help the Cardinal hold off the Beavers.
Oregon dominated Stanford 88-48 last season to snap a 29-game losing streak at Maples Pavilion.
“She was quick to remind me that she’s never lost at Stanford,” Graves said of Ionescu, who missed the game at the Cardinal three years ago due to a broken thumb. “And I was thinking, well I guess that’s true because she didn’t play as a freshman. Her first game back (from injury) was Cal. And then we only went there (again) last year.
“I hope that stays that way. We’ll see.”
Follow Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @RGDuckFootball and email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com.