Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu secures record 18th triple-double, calls out ESPN

Oregon's Satou Sabally, Sabrina Ionescu, and Maite Cazorla, from left, celebrate as the team led UCLA with seconds left in overtime in an NCAA college basketball game in the semifinals of the Pac-12 women's tournament Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Oregon's Satou Sabally (L), Sabrina Ionescu (C) and Maite Cazorla are rolling in the women's tournament. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Sabrina Ionescu is the best in college basketball when it comes to triple-doubles. The University of Oregon junior has the most in the game — both for men and women — and continues to bump up the mark, whether media outlets are paying attention or not.

She put away the 18th triple-double of her career Sunday night, sending Oregon to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA women’s tournament for the third consecutive season after a 91-68 victory over Indiana University.

Ionescu shared how she ensured she’d get reach the mark late in the game, then put media, specifically ESPN, on blast for the lack of recognition she said it shows women’s sports.

Ionescu ensures a 10th rebound

The Ducks had a comfortable lead with 2:30 left in the game when Ionescu, one rebound away from a triple-double in the runaway 89-66 game, came up short on a 3-pointer from dead center.

She followed her shot, snatched the rebound, and the crowd went crazy for the star junior. The Naismith Trophy finalist finished with 29 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds.

ESPN’s Dave Pasch and LaChina Robinson asked her during the postgame on-air interview if that miss, a rarity, was on purpose.

“A little bit, a little bit,” she said with a big smile. “I knew exactly where it was going to go, so let me just add a little bit more rotation on this shot so I can get it back.”

Ionescu was 5-of-9 from behind the arc and made all six free throws.

Oregon, the second seed in the Portland region behind Mississippi State, shot 51.5 percent from the field as a team and 44.8 percent from beyond the arc. Kelly Graves told The Oregonian he thought the team “got some of our mojo back.”

Upping the collegiate record

Ionescu has eight triple-doubles this season. She set the single-season record — again both for men’s and women’s college basketball — with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 13 assists against Southern California in February.

Her 18 career triple-doubles increases her own record, set in a December 2018 outing against Air Force.

It broke the mark set by Kyle Collinsworth over a four-year career at BYU. He had 12 in his career, six of which were in the 2017-18 season for what was then a record.

In the 2017-18 tournament Ionescu set Oregon off with a bang, posting a triple-double on the first day of the women’s action. That shattering performance and quiet reverberation set up Ionescu’s remarks about ESPN after the Ducks’ win.

Ionescu jabs media coverage

The junior has not decided if she’ll declare for the WNBA draft, where she is projected to be a first-round pick if not the first overall. The victory over Indiana could have been her final game at Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena and if it is, she went out in style.

As for those outside of the arena Sunday, she’s not so sure they will get word of the team’s tournament successes and triple-double.

“It’s awesome to get one in the [NCAA] tournament — probably still won’t get recognized because ESPN never recognizes women’s sports that are getting triple-doubles,” Ionescu said during postgame comments. "But I’m still happy to do it in front of the home crowd and everyone supporting me.”

Ionescu was inexplicably left out of the conversation Thursday when Murray State’s Ja Morant opened the men’s tournament with a triple-double. Media outlets dubbed it the “first March Madness triple-double since 2012.”

The Pac-12 Network called the NCAA out on Twitter as did fellow basketball fans. And Monday morning, after Ionescu’s second NCAA tournament triple-double in as many years, the coverage was relatively quiet in comparison.

For her part, Ionescu congratulated Morant, who gave a classy reply back.

ESPN airs the women’s tournament in full, but as has been noted over the weekend on Twitter it leaves a lot to be desired. And when it comes to the station’s topical shows, such as “SportsCenter” and commentary shows, women’s basketball is a glaring omission.

Oregon will play the winner of No. 3 Syracuse vs. No. 6 South Dakota State, set to tip off at 7 p.m. Monday, in the Portland semifinal regional Friday.

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