The Ducks could only be contained for so long.
In the first quarter, No. 7 Stanford (27-6, 14-4 Pac-12) jumped out to a 17-14 lead on the strength of Kiana Williams. The junior guard had 11 points, while No. 3 Oregon’s (31-2, 17-1 Pac-12) Sabrina Ionescu was held scoreless.
“We had a very good first quarter, and we just really struggled after that,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer.
Ionescu scored 15 of her 20 points in a breakout second quarter that Oregon won 29-9. The Ducks beat the Cardinal in the Pac-12 tournament championship for the second time in three years. The final score was 89-56 in the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
“We’re not the only team [Oregon’s] beaten this year,” VanDerveer said. “I think they beat a USA team early on.”
Ionescu also added 12 assists and eight rebounds to take home the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award that Stanford standout Alanna Smith ’19 won last year.
For the third time this season, Oregon severely outclassed Stanford. As a team, the Ducks shot 56.4% from the floor and 11-of-19 from deep.
Satou Sabally, who pulverized Stanford in Maples, struggled, shooting just 3-of-11 for 7 points. At the same time, however, Ruthy Hebard, who Stanford contained last time, shot 9-of-11 for a game-high 24 points along with seven rebounds.
“If one person for them is struggling, someone else is picking up the slack,” VanDerveer said. “And that does put a lot of pressure on our team.”
Stanford once again opted to play off of Oregon’s Minyon Moore and make her beat them on offense. This time, she did. The transfer from USC scored a season-high 21 points on 6-of-9 shooting — a success rate twice as high as her season average of 31%. Over the previous 13 games, Moore was 4-of-23 from behind the arc. On Sunday, she was 4-of-5. Prior to the game, she was 4-for-16 from range against Stanford in her collegiate career.
Moore, Hebard and Ionescu combined for 38 first-half points, while Sabally and Erin Boley added 2 and 3, respectively, to bring the Ducks’ score to 43 at the break. Stanford totaled 26.
Williams finished with 21 points for her ninth consecutive game in double figures while averaging 19.1 points per game over that span.
“Kiana led the way for us, playing almost every minute in this tournament,” VanDerveer said. “[She] really puts her team on her back every single game.”
The only other Cardinal in double digits was forward Ashten Prechtel, who scored 7 of her 14 in the fourth quarter.
“We had a real bright spot off the bench with Ashten,” VanDerveer said. “She came in and hit some big shots for us and competed.”
“Ashten came in and kept playing to the final horn,” Williams said. “Things didn’t go our way tonight, but no one gave up or started pouting or anything.”
Sophomore guard Lexie Hull was named to the All-Tournament team alongside Williams, but could hardly call Sunday night’s contest her best game. Hull had just 9 points on 2-of-3 from the field after netting 28 the day before.
“We struggled hitting shots,” VanDerveer said. “Lexie has had a great tournament, played really well last night and you can’t control the shots.”
“We don’t have the depth that if Ki has a bad game, or Lexie has a bad game, that someone else can really step up and get it done for us,” VanDerveer added.
“[Lexie] takes on the scoring role sometimes and also guards other team’s best perimeter player,” Williams said. “She’s been playing extremely well. She struggled tonight, but other people have to step up.”
Oregon won fast-break points 8-0 and points off turnovers 16-0. The Ducks also had nine steals and seven more defensive rebounds than the Cardinal.
“They’re big, they’re strong, they rebound,” VanDerveer said. “You get one shot and they’re going the other way pretty fast.”
Stanford finished its seventh consecutive game against a ranked opponent with a 4-3 record.
“There’s not a game that our team is going to play that’s any tougher,” VanDerveer said.
Stanford finished the regular season tied for second in the Pac-12 standings and appear poised for a second seed in the upcoming NCAA tournament. The selection show is Monday, March 16, at 4 p.m. PT.
“Take three starters off of any team and they would give their right arm to be sitting up here as the number two team in the best conference in the country,” VanDerveer said. “We don’t dwell on it because there’s nothing you can do about it.”