A sold-out crowd at Matthew Knight Arena saluted Satou Sabally with booming cheers as she took the bench at the end of the Ducks’ 92-56 victory over Washington in what ended up being the final home game of her Oregon career.
There were tears in the crowd as the team gathered at center court and danced along to the traditional “Shout,” celebrating a season that redefined the Oregon basketball program and women’s college basketball as a whole.
“I mean I really just enjoyed being there and it was more like a celebration rather than sadness,” Sabally said. “I know I’ll be sad after our last actual game there, but this was more like a celebration. It was a really good feeling.”
Sabally capped off the regular season by earning the Pac-12 Player of the Week award after scoring 22 points and grabbing seven rebounds in Oregon’s victory over Washington State. She finished the weekend on senior day with 20 points and five rebounds against Washington.
The junior averaged a team-high 18.6 points during the 16-game winning streak that capped off the regular season, while dealing with her decision to enter the WNBA draft.
With the regular season over and the Pac-12 regular season title in hand, Sabally and the Ducks went to Las Vegas to compete for the Pac-12 title.
In a landslide victory over the Stanford Cardinal, the Ducks claimed the crown in front of a full crowd of Ducks fans at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
“It’s amazing,” Sabally said. “It just speaks for itself what this team has done and what people like Ruthy [Hebard] and Sabrina [Ionescu] mean for the community. It’s just really great that all the fans show love and bring their kids and just show that we can be good role models for the sport of basketball.”
In 2017, before the Berlin, Germany, native became a dominant player on a trailblazing team, she was just a wide-eyed freshman.
“I was so nervous,” Sabally said. “I mean I was just overwhelmed with all the emotions and the fans were loud, but I was just really nervous the first time.”
When the guard came to Eugene in 2017, she did not stand in the shadows. Sabally started in 29 games and played in all 38, landing the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year award. She didn’t slow down in her sophomore year, starting all 38 games and helping lead the Ducks to a Final Four appearance.
“I had a really welcoming environment here,” Sabally said. “Cultural things are different, you know like food or practice is different, but it was good.”
In her third and final season, Sabally came in with unfinished business.
Currently No. 2 in the nation, Oregon’s business will remain unfinished as the NCAA tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Despite her collegiate career coming to an unexpected end, Sabally was a crucial member of the team. She finished the regular season averaging 23 points and seven rebounds per game and ended the season with three-straight 20-point performances.
The guard is joined by Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and Minyon Moore in heading into the WNBA Draft.
“This is a group that left quite a legacy, and we have some iconic players that we are losing,” head coach Kelly Graves said.
Now Sabally is leaving Eugene after this year for the WNBA, destined to be a top-three pick in the 2020 Draft.
“We're just having a lot of fun,” Sabally said. “Great people. I mean, they're my sisters, and great coaches. We do what we love. Everyone should have fun doing it.”