SPOKANE, Wash. (KOIN) — The 2018 Oregon Ducks women’s basketball team has a chance to do what no Oregon women’s team has done before – cut down the nets and earn a spot in the Final Four.
Currently riding the most successful year in program history, No. 2 Oregon has cruised through their first three games, averaging 90 points a game while taking down Seattle University, Minnesota and Central Michigan by double digits.
Monday, at 6 p.m., it’s not a ‘Cinderella’ team they’ll be facing. For the first time this NCAA Tournament, Oregon could be considered the underdog against No. 1-seed Notre Dame. But Kelly Graves and his team have preached against looking at a team’s seed the entire tournament – they’re not going to stop now.
“Seeding-wise you could say we’re an underdog, they are the one seed,” said sophomore guard Sabrina Ionescu. “But I think once that game starts, it’s anybody’s game. I think we’re just as talented as they are.”
“Our team is confident,” said fourth-year coach Graves. “They’re ready…they know what we’re up against. I think we all feel that we’re a pretty good basketball team, and we have a chance tomorrow for 40 minutes to go prove it.”
After facing three teams who were a lower seed, Sunday the Ducks seemed calm, cool, collected and excited to face a storied program like the Fighting Irish.
“We’re playing the number one seed for a right to go to the Final Four,” said Graves. “If we can’t get up for something like that then we’re in big trouble. I don’t anticipate that happening.”
Ionescu, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, may not go to bed between now and tip-off.
“I’m really excited I couldn’t even sleep last night thinking about it,” Ionescu admitted. “I’ve watched them, I’ve played with a lot of their players so just to be able to finally go out there and try and prove ourselves and who we are as a program and try to reach the level of success that they have is going to be really fun.”
“We’re hungry and we’re really excited,” senior Lexi Bando added. “We know what’s at stake and this is a huge opportunity for this program.”
This year’s Ducks’ squad refers to their style of play as ‘loose and focused’ and for them to earn a trip to Columbus, they’re anticipating needing that mindset for a full 40 minutes.
“They’re well-coached, have veteran players, players that have played overseas in international basketball,” Ionescu said. “They know what it takes to win.”
Both Notre Dame and Oregon are averaging more than 90 points a game in this tournament and Graves anticipates a dynamic, high-scoring affair Monday night at Spokane Arena.
“These two great offenses, I think this is going to be one of those epic games. I know a lot of people are looking forward to it, two teams with a lot of skill offensively, a lot of different weapons, star power, this should be a fun game.”