Satou Sabally will never know what it’s like to play at Oregon and not win a Pac-12 championship.
The junior from Germany will be honored by the program during the senior day festivities following the regular-season finale against Washington on Sunday.
But first Sabally will try to help the third-ranked Ducks (26-2, 15-1) clinch their third consecutive outright Pac-12 title with a win over Washington State on Friday at sold-out Matthew Knight Arena (8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks).
“Now I can be focused on what we have to finish,” Sabally said of her decision to enter the WNBA draft instead of returning to Oregon for her senior year. “They’ll be able to just rip the bandaid off and start a new era, just keep doing what we did and start something new.”
Seniors Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard were obviously the key figures in turning Oregon into a women’s basketball superpower under the direction of coach Kelly Graves and his staff.
Since the addition of Sabally, the highly-skilled 6-foot-4 forward, the “Big Three” have been collecting conference championship rings and contending for national championships.
During the Ducks’ 14-game winning streak, Sabally has averaged 18.2 points and 8.1 rebounds with six double-double performances.
“Sabrina has always had a gift. When she steps on the court, she impacts the other four players. There’s a confidence she gives them,” assistant coach Mark Campbell said. “And Satou is stepping into that role where, when Satou steps on the court, she gives everybody else confidence that we’re the best team.”
Sabally is third on the team in scoring (16.5 ppg) and rebounding (7.3 rpg) this season behind Ionescu (17.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and Hebard (16.9 ppg, 9.6 rpg).
Oregon’s three stars are projected to be among the top five picks in the WNBA draft.
“I think it’s kind of touching,” Hebard said of Sabally being included in the senior day ceremony. “I’m so proud of her for declaring for the draft, and that’s going to be great.
“Now knowing that she’s leaving is going to make everyone play a little harder and have a little more to play for this weekend.”
The Ducks lead the NCAA in scoring (85.8 points per game), field-goal percentage (50.6%) and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.84).
Oregon’s 74-66 victory at No. 4 Stanford on Monday cliched at least a share of the Pac-12 championship.
Ionescu tallied the 26th triple-double over her career and became the first player in NCAA history with 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds during the exhausting day that began with her speech at the Kobe Bryant memorial service.
A win over Washington State will make Oregon only the second program, along with Stanford (1991-93, 1995-98, 2005-12) to win three consecutive outright conference titles.
Before the Big Three started this run, the Ducks’ only had one outright regular-season conference championship in 2000.
“It will be a very emotional weekend for our staff,” Campbell said. “It’s a culmination of a vision when all of us came here of what we wanted to build.”
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