It was supposed to be a draw as a top ten game between Oregon and Oregon State for the second time in two days, but it was overshadowed by the death of Kobe Bryant on Sunday.
The Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers found out the news about an hour before their expected tipoff and pregame warmups took on a different meaning. The sound of dribbling basketballs was replaced with the sound of silence as players from both Oregon and Oregon State met at midcourt in prayer for Bryant, who died a few hours earlier in a helicopter crash.
Oregon Senior Sabrina Ionescu had a close connection to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. He has watched the team and met them earlier this season in Long Beach State. Kobe had taken Ionescu and has been a mentor to her. At the end of the game, Head Coach Kelly Graves said for Sabrina it was like losing a family member.
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Despite the heartbreak on the court, both teams played. Ionescu finished with a team-high 16 points for the Ducks in a 66-57 win over the Oregon State Beavers taking the season series. She shot 6 for 17 from the floor and dedicated the rest of the season to Bryant.
The game was a battle and the Ducks were down at halftime but found a way to come back and hold on. The Ducks allowed just 8 points to Oregon State in the third quarter. Oregon had just a single turnover in the first 20 minutes of play. Ruthy Hebard had a hard-fought 13 points and Taylor Chavez hit two key three-pointers that were momentum changers in the game for the Ducks.
Oregon State was able to get the game to single digits in the final minutes, but the Ducks held onto a lead taking two games from Oregon State in two days. The Ducks now hit the road entering February starting with a road trip to Utah on Thursday. The Ducks will also travel to UConn on February 3rd.
Oregon and Utah tipoff on Thursday night at 7 pm Pacific Time on Pac-12 Network.