Why Sabrina Ionescu is the best player in women's college basketball

Ionescu becomes Oregon's top scorer, then sends Eugene into a frenzy (1:05)

Sabrina Ionescu knocks down a jump shot to become Oregon's all-time leading scorer, then drains a 3-pointer before the quarter ends to get the Oregon faithful amped. (1:05)

EUGENE, Ore. -- With eight minutes remaining in the third quarter inside Matthew Knight Arena on Thursday, No. 3 Stanford led No. 6 Oregon by a single point.

That is Stanford, 23-time regular-season champion in the conference now known as the Pac-12. The same Stanford that had compiled a 55-11 all-time record against Oregon entering the game.

But Sabrina Ionescu scored 22 points in the remaining minutes of the game. Stanford scored 18.

Ionescu totaled six rebounds in those final 18 minutes. Stanford had five.

Stanford turned over the ball 10 times in that stretch. Ionescu? Not even one.

How much more explanation is required in naming the espnW Player of the Week? Ionescu finished with a career-best 37 points and had 11 rebounds and seven assists in an 87-55 win.

"We had some very young players out there," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said, "who saw, up close and personal, the best player in college basketball right now."

Ionescu gets a lot of attention. Maybe as much as the best player deserves. Maybe more, a few folks have been known to grumble. Truth be told, after four years of counting triple-doubles and various other numbers, it's easy to be blasé about the show.

Been there, heard all about it. Can't we talk about someone else?

Even Ionescu seems a bit blasé about it at times -- even when she broke Oregon's career scoring record by scoring more points than she ever had in a college game. But what is she supposed to say? That her walls are covered with little tally marks adding up to 2,265 points?

But Thursday wasn't even about the numbers, gaudy as they were. As was the case when she lit up Team USA in a November exhibition, winning Player of the Week for the first time this season, what Ionescu did in those 18 minutes against Stanford was a revelation. The first stood out because of how well she fit in amidst the best in the world. This stood out because she stood alone.

Ionescu simply took over the game -- with apologies to the rest of the country -- as only she can.

"She's very physical, she's very skilled," VanDerveer said. "She's kind of the golfer who can hit the long drive, has the midrange game and can putt. She has it all."

And she showed it all in the second half. She drove baseline and kicked out a no-look pass to the top of the key to begin the show. A teammate missed a 3-pointer, but Ionescu got the offensive rebound, used another teammate like a ball return machine to get into position for a shot and hit a 3-pointer of her own.

She got the defensive rebound on the ensuing trip down the court, worked a give-and-go with Ruthy Hebard for roughly the 5,000th time in their careers and hit a contested jumper.

And she was off and running -- a drive to the basket here, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer there.

She was great in the entirety of the game. She was also plenty good in Sunday's 105-55 romp against Cal, totaling 14 points, 10 assists and six rebounds while barely breaking a sweat in 29 minutes.

But she was something else in the second half against Stanford.

Afterward, Oregon coach Kelly Graves talked about the collective defensive effort his team put forth in the third quarter. He noted how many people stepped up to help the Ducks pull away. Then he came back to the truth of the matter.

"It starts with Sabrina," Graves admitted. "She was magical tonight."

Also considered: Ciara Duffy, South Dakota; Alex Fowler, Portland; Aliyah Jeune, USC; Ayanna Mitchell, LSU; Kristen Kristen Spolyar, Butler

Previous winners: Ja'Tavia Tapley, Arizona State (Jan. 13); Rhyne Howard, Kentucky (Jan. 6); Kaila Charles, Maryland (Dec. 30); Charli Collier, Texas (Dec. 23); Ashley Joens, Iowa State (Dec. 16); Megan Walker, UConn (Dec. 9); Dana Evans, Louisville (Dec. 2); Jaelyn Brown, Cal (Nov. 25); Aari McDonald, Arizona (Nov. 18); Sabrina Ionescu, Oregon (Nov. 11)