Sabrina Ionescu is a pretty cool customer. Clutch time was tense during Oregon’s 88-84 win over top-seeded Mississippi State in the Elite Eight on Sunday, but Ionescu never even entertained the idea of coming up short. With a little over a minute remaining and the Ducks clinging to a 3-point lead, Ionescu rounded a screen behind the arc and squared up for the dagger. “That was going in regardless,” she told reporters after the game. “No other way to say it.” She made the shot, obviously. What else was going to happen?
Ionescu hit her last five attempts of the game and finished with a typically gaudy statline: 31 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists. The junior has been putting up Powerball-like numbers since she got to Oregon, and she set the NCAA Division I record for career triple-doubles all the way back in 2017. No one comes close in that department, but Ionescu’s résumé had been lacking a Final Four appearance. The Ducks had come up short in the Elite Eight three years running (two of those with Ionescu on the team), but Sunday’s win got them over the hump in style.
Ionescu scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and slammed the door shut on Mississippi State with a barrage of jumpers.
Had she been anything less than perfect during the final nine minutes of Sunday’s game, the country’s most exciting player would probably be watching the semifinals from home once again. But that never crossed Ionescu’s mind. “I didn’t want it to go to overtime,” she told reporters of her thinking. “Let me hit this and walk off to the Final Four.”