No. 3 Oregon beat No. 11 Stanford 88-48 on Sunday, handing the Cardinal's Tara VanDerveer the worst loss of her coaching career and notching the Ducks' first win at Maples Pavilion since 1987.
STANFORD, Calif. -- Maples Pavilion, on a Sunday afternoon, is not the most hostile environment on the map. The band sways to the Steve Miller Band, young girls politely sit with their parents and wave pom-poms, and the home crowd cheers every so often for Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu, probably because she's doing things no women's basketball player has ever done.
But for more than three decades, since 1987, the Oregon women could not win a game at Stanford. That changed Sunday in resounding fashion when the No. 3 Ducks flattened the 11th-ranked Cardinal 88-48 and won their 16th consecutive game.
None of Oregon's players were alive, obviously, the last time the program won a game at Stanford. Back then, longtime Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer was barely chipping away at her 1,000-plus career wins. On Sunday, Oregon handed her the worst loss of her career.
Ionescu, who scored a combined 54 points in a weekend road swing to her home in the San Francisco Bay Area, seemed unaffected by any historic significance. So was Ducks coach Kelly Graves, whose team held Stanford star forward Alanna Smith to six points on 3-of-14 shooting. Smith came in averaging more than 20 points a game.
"I told everybody all week, 'This team has never lost to Stanford,'" Graves said. "What they've done in the years before these kids were born ... who cares? We don't talk about it. We talk about the game. And we didn't even talk about this game until yesterday."
Oregon, which was coming off a late-night 105-82 win at Cal on Friday, held a light shootaround Saturday night that was so low-key that Graves played center on the scout team. But he challenged the Ducks mentally, and the results were an all-out defensive blitz that forced the Cardinal to misfire on 41 of their 60 shots. Many of those misses were from point-blank range in the first half, when Oregon used a 15-0 run to go into halftime in command at 44-20.
"Early in the game, we got some good looks and didn't finish at the basket," VanDerveer said. "As it kind of got away, we made one little run early, and then it was a train going down the tracks really fast."
There have been a lot of impressive performances in women's college basketball this year, but @OregonWBB 's combined dominance on both ends of the floor was the best I've seen all season. #FearTheDuck— Rebecca Lobo (@RebeccaLobo) February 10, 2019
Oregon, which has one of the most prolific offenses in the country, had four players in double figures and watched forward Erin Boley hit a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range. But like so many days, Ionescu made everything go for the Ducks (23-1 overall, 12-0 Pac-12). She hit 12 of 20 from the field and came close to adding to her NCAA record of career triple-doubles with 27 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
Afterward, some of the local media who no doubt covered her in her days at Miramonte High School, across the bay in Orinda, California, asked Ionescu the question many WNBA coaches are wondering: Will she declare for the draft after the season? One reporter asked her to rate her chances on a scale of 1 to 10, and Ionescu wasn't having any of it.
She said she's focused on this season, and doing something special with the Ducks. On Sunday, anything seemed possible.
"I know that's a politically correct answer," she said as she got up out of her chair. "But sorry."
VanDerveer still has high hopes, too. She said that around this time last winter, Notre Dame was rocked by a 33-point loss at Louisville. The Fighting Irish wound up winning the national championship a few months later.
"I don't think it does any good to throw anybody under the bus," VanDerveer said. "It's one game, and [Oregon] is very talented.
"Our team is resilient. I think they'll take it personally."