Over the summer, the U.S. Women's national basketball teamat the FIBA Women's AmeriCup, winning all six games by an average of 38.6 points. They've dominated at the Olympic level, winning the last six gold medals, and have done the same at the FIBA World Cup, taking home gold at the last three editions of that event. In fact, it's been over a decade since they lost a game at a major international competition.
But on Saturday night, the No. 1 ranked college team was too much for them. In front of a sold out crowd at their home gym, the Oregon Ducks took down Team USA, 93-86 in a historic upset. In doing so, Oregon became just the second collegiate team to ever beat Team USA, joining Tennessee, who accomplished the feat back in 1999.
No matter the level, you need a star to take down Team USA, and Oregon has one in senior guard Sabrina Ionescu. She led Oregon to their first ever Final Four appearance last season, and is already the NCAA all-time leader in triple-doubles, regardless of gender, and would have been the No. 1 overall pick in last year's WNBA Draft if she had decided to declare.
She showed why on Saturday, scoring 25 points in the second half alone to lead Oregon to the upset. She finished with 30 points, four rebounds and seven assists, and made a couple of highlight-reel plays. Ionescu might as well start looking up places to live in New York, because there's no way the Liberty are taking anyone else with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft next spring.
Now, you may be asking yourself, why was Team USA even playing Oregon this weekend? Good question. Over the past two weekends, Team USA embarked on a four-game tour to face some of the best college teams of the country. The matchups were set up as part of afor the national team. Earlier in the tour, Team USA defeated Stanford, Oregon State and Texas A&M.
Working together with the WNBA, USA Basketball committed to a program to pay for a select group of players to stay in the United States this winter to train and prepare for the 2020 Olympics. In addition to improving Team USA, a stated goal of the initiative was to increase exposure for women's basketball in the U.S. It's safe to say that goal was accomplished on Saturday night.
Now, it must be stated that this wasn't the A+ version of Team USA. Breanna Stewart and Angel McCoughtry are injured, Maya Moore isn't playing basketball right now and key bigs like Elena Delle Donne, Brittney Griner and Tina Charles weren't playing. Still, this version of Team USA featured much of the core of the Olympic team, including Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and Sylvia Fowles, and was a much better squad than the one that went to Puerto Rico for the FIBA Women's AmeriCup and flat out dominated.
In truth, it wouldn't matter which version of Team USA Oregon defeated; a group of college kids taking down WNBA stars is an incredible accomplishment. Good luck to the other college teams that have to face the Ducks this season.