Two seasons ago, as a freshman, Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu set the school’s career record for triple-doubles. Her four that season were the most by any freshman in NCAA single-season history.
Now, as a junior, Ionescu has more than tripled her number of triple-doubles, by earning her 13th Thursday afternoon with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. And with that, Ionescu has set the all-time Division I record for triple-doubles in a career, earned in both NCAA men’s and women’s basketball history.
Her response after the game: “I guess it’s awesome. Just another day.”
Ionescu’s triple-double highlighted the Ducks’ 82-36 victory over Air Force (4-7) at Matthew Knight Arena.
Associate head coach Mark Campbell filled in for an absent Kelly Graves, who is serving a part one of a two-game suspension for violating NCAA rules.
“We have a special group of players that are obviously extremely talented, but their maturity level, they know what’s at stake with every game, regardless of the opponent,” Campbell said. “So that makes my job, and our whole coaching staff job, pretty easy.”
Closing out the first half with a run of 8-0 and a lead of 39-22, Oregon found its groove in the second half.
Ionescu first reached double-digits in points, with a layup only three minutes into the third quarter. The basket capped a 9-0 Oregon run, as the Ducks had quickly reached a 23-point lead against Air Force.
Next came the assists. Less than four minutes later, Ionescu passed the ball to freshman Satou Sabally to get the Ducks ahead by 30 points over the Falcons with still another full quarter to play.
Earning her ninth rebound of the day to end the third quarter, Ionescu knew only one more stood in her way.
“I wasn’t counting,” she said. “My coaches had told me that I needed to get one more rebound so that’s what I went and did.”
And at the six-minute, seven-second mark in the final quarter, the crowd watched as a Falcon’s shot missed the basket. The ball bounced off the backboard and immediately fell into Ionescu’s hands.
The crowd wasted no time to celebrate. People stood up and erupted in cheers as they had just witness NCAA basketball history.
“The beautiful thing that she does with the game of basketball is she doesn’t play for any records,” Campbell said. “Her game just naturally takes care of itself. She’ll continue to get more triple-doubles, just because that’s who she is and how she approaches the game. She’s going to do whatever needs to be done to help the Oregon Ducks win.”
As Ionescu sat out the rest of the game, the Ducks continued to dominate on the court. Oregon earned the win easily, outscoring Air Force 20-9 in the final quarter.
The team will have less than 24 hours to rest before closing its nonconference schedule.
“Playing 80 minutes within a 24-hour window is difficult,” Campbell said. “It’s kind-of an NCAA Tournament-type feel, where it’s back-to-back [with] very limited prep time.”
Oregon will return to Matthew Knight Arena at noon on Friday to play against UC Irvine (9-1).
Follow Maggie Vanoni on Twitter: @maggie_vanoni