STORRS, Conn. -- An air ball to end a quarter. A shot clock violation that appeared to be a product of pure frustration. A lane to the basket left so wide-open by the defense that the Gampel Pavilion crowd let out what seemed like a collective sigh. Some of those fans headed to the exits with more than four-and-a-half minutes left in the game.
This isn't the UConn team we've become accustomed to seeing over the past quarter-century. Still, this arena remains the place to make a statement in women's basketball.
Third-ranked Oregon did that Monday, routing the No. 4 Huskies 74-56, their worst loss ever in Gampel, which opened in 1990. UConn lost by 17 here twice -- to Iowa in 1990 and to Syracuse in 1992 -- but that was before the Huskies won their first of 11 NCAA titles (1995) under coach Geno Auriemma.
The Ducks showed Monday that they might be ready to win their first national championship this year, as they made beating the Huskies look ... well, relatively simple. The Ducks dominated with their pick-and-roll offense, led by seniors Sabrina Ionescu and Ruthy Hebard.
UConn has long been considered the program against which all other teams measure themselves, but this season, Oregon is in that position more.
"I think we should be the barometer," Ionescu said. "Obviously, there's a lot of room for us to grow and continue to get better, and we didn't have our A-game tonight as well -- too many turnovers. We want to continue to grow and be the team that we know we can be."
If this is an Oregon team that has a lot of growth left, that's pretty scary for everyone else. What was anticipated to be one of the top nonconference games this season instead turned into a display of why there's a good chance that we'll see Oregon at the Final Four for the second year in a row.
Sure, it's early February, and strange things can happen in the NCAA tournament, but if the Ducks play the rest of the way like they did Monday, the Big Easy will be in their travel plans come April.
Ionescu acknowledged being a little starstruck coming into Gampel and seeing all the Huskies' championship banners. Yet the Ducks looked as comfortable as if they were the home team. After victories Thursday at Utah and Saturday at Colorado, it would have been understandable if the Ducks were somewhat fatigued or took a while to get their footing on Monday in Connecticut, three time zones away from Eugene. Instead, they took a 10-point first-quarter lead and kept the Huskies at arm's length the rest of the way.
Oregon lost by 38 points to UConn in the 2017 Elite Eight in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Ionescu and Hebard were freshmen then. Coach Kelly Graves said that back then, the Ducks simply weren't ready to beat a team of UConn's caliber. But on Monday, they were.
"It means a lot. This is hallowed ground, so to speak," Graves said. "This is one, personally, I'll remember a long time. Who doesn't look up to Geno?
"It was an important win for the Pac-12, an important win for our program. We're still the up-and-comer. I see all the banners up there. We don't have any. They're still the standard by which everybody's judged, and they should be."
But the Huskies fell short in most areas Monday. They are size-challenged and don't have the kind of strength inside that we're used to seeing. Even so, the Ducks' ability to dominate in the lane -- led by Hebard and Satou Sabally -- stood out. Oregon outscored UConn 44-14 in the paint.
Hebard finished 10-of-14 from the floor for 22 points and added 10 rebounds. Sabally also had a double-double, with 17 and 10.
"They're just too good, and their big kids are too good," Auriemma said. "We don't have anybody at that level. We just don't."
The Ducks dominated with what seemed like a fairly pedestrian game -- albeit close to another triple-double -- from Ionescu. Scratch beneath the surface of her 10-point, 9-assist and 9-rebound performance, however, and you'll see that she did exactly what her team needed. The Ducks didn't require her to carry an enormous load because they have plenty of capable hands.
All five Oregon starters finished in double figures. Erin Boley scored all 13 of her points in the first half, and Minyon Moore added 10 points.
"I know that we believe in each other, and we give each other the praise that we need," Ionescu said. "At the moment, I think we're ascending. We're setting standards for ourselves, standards of excellence."
UConn, meanwhile, has lost high-profile nonconference games to Baylor and Oregon at home, and the Huskies have one more -- against No. 1 South Carolina -- next Monday on the road.
Senior guard Crystal Dangerfield, who led UConn with 19 points, said Monday's margin of defeat was "embarrassing."
Auriemma said he wants the Huskies to feel the sting.
"It's not my job to make them feel better right now," he said. "My job is to be realistic with them and say, 'Pick up the paper tomorrow, go on social media, read about what happened ... and then deal with it. Plain and simple. You were part of it.'"