Things started out tight in the Pac-12 Tournament championship game, as Stanford led 17-14 after one quarter.
The Ducks couldn’t get a three to fall, Sabrina Ionescu was held scoreless and Kiana Williams hit three three-pointers in the first quarter, making it seem like this was going to be a grind it out game for 40 minutes.
However, in the second quarter things took a complete turn. The Ducks won the quarter 29-9 and Ionescu got things going. Even more important though was that the Ducks were suffocating defensively.
The second quarter alone exemplified why the Ducks are a better team this season than they were even last season. They are a much-improved team on the defensive end of the floor, and Minyon Moore deserves continued praise for that improvement, but Moore was a key piece in this game for a reason aside from defense.
Stanford took the same approach in this game than they did the last time they played, and that was to sag off of Moore and try and pack the paint, making things more difficult on Ruthy Hebard and trying to better close off driving lanes for Ionescu.
In the last meeting, this resulted in Moore spending most of the game on the bench and Taylor Chavez and Jaz Shelley being the backcourt running mate of Ionescu.
This game was completely different though. Starting early in the second quarter Ionescu hit Moore and she launched the three that Stanford was giving her, and she made it. It was the first three of the game for the Ducks, but it also showed early that she was willing to take that shot the Cardinal were giving her.
That first shot also gave Moore confidence, and she went on to make 4/5 from distance. This showed that she is more than capable of making teams pay if they are going to sag off of her and give her wide-open jump shots. Given how dangerous Ionescu, Erin Boley, and Satou Sabally are from distance and how efficient Hebard is inside, it’s not hard to see why teams might try and play them that way defensively.
If Moore is going to shoot that way though, this is basically going to be an unstoppable offensive team.
This 89-56 win was the most impressive performance this team has put together this season. Both of the first two wins against Stanford could also be considered that given the blowout the first game was and given what the team, mostly Ionescu, was dealing with on the day of the second one.
But with the stakes as high in this game as they were, and Oregon wanting to avenge its loss in this same situation a year ago, this was part of the “unfinished business” tour and wow did they ever make amends for last seasons loss.
Now, the Ducks will have to sit for a week until March 16th to figure out what their path to the Final Four will look like. They will be hosting in Eugene for the first and second rounds and will more than likely be the number one seed in the Portland Region. However, that won’t be confirmed until next Monday and that same day we will also see who else will be coming to Eugene as the likely eight and nine seeds and who will be the higher seeds in their region that they could meet in a possible Sweet Sixteen or Elite Eight matchup.
Top Photo: Oregon Women’s Basketball Twitter account