Ionescu led the Ducks to a 91-68 win over Indiana to propel Oregon to its third straight Sweet 26 appearance.
Oregon will now take a short trip to Portland where they’ll either play 3-seed Syracuse or 6-seed South Dakota State on Friday. The Ducks have played both the Orange and the Jackrabbits this season and winning both of those contests.
But in this second round contest, Ionescu, a junior guard from Walnut Creek, Calif. scored 29 points to go along with 12 assists and 10 rebounds. When she corralled her 10th rebound to complete her 18th triple-double of her storied career, it sent the partisan crowd into a frenzy. It was perhaps the loudest pop of the night.
A close second might be when Ionescu completed a four-point play in the second quarter when the Ducks were in the midst of a 9-0 run to give them a 40-32 lead with just over a minute left before halftime. That erased a 12-0 Hoosier run that gave them a brief 28-24 lead.
But it wasn’t all Ionescu. Not by a long shot.
Oregon shot 51.5 percent from the field with Satou Sabally scoring 19 points and Erin Boley pouring 14 points thanks to four threes. Ruthy Hebard had an unusual quiet night with just eight points, but she pulled down 10 boards. Indiana made sure someone else besides Hebard was going to beat them and that was where Ionescu came in.
She was 9-of-19 from the field, including five from long distance.
As for the Hoosiers, they ended their season 23-11 overall. Ali Patberg led Indiana with 16 points, Jaelynn Penn added 15 and Bendu Yeaney poured in 10.
They shot 46 percent from the field, but the Hoosiers just couldn’t keep up with Oregon’s athleticism and length for a 40-minute game. They pulled themselves to with 10 in the middle of the third quarter, but Oti Gildon made an inside shot and after a turnover, Boley nailed a deep three from the right corner to build the lead back up to 15 with 3:18 left in the third and that shot sank any dreams the Hoosiers might have had for an upset.
Indiana can hold its head up high, but even with the great effort, the Hoosier just also didn’t have an answer for a game-changing player like Ionescu.
Not many do.
~ Don Smalley