SAN ANTONIO – Thanks to 22 points from attacker Sedona Prince, the sixth-seeded Oregon Ducks advanced to the Sweet 16 on Wednesday with a 57-50 victory over the third-seeded Georgia Lady Bulldogs.
But for Prince, emotions were raw after the game. Her thoughts vary between her personal journey, her teammates, and the attention her viral tweet has generated by highlighting the disparity between the men’s and women’s tournaments.
I was really nervous beforehand because I knew there would be a lot of people watching, Prince said. So I was nervous. But that’s a good thing. We want more people to watch, so I have to get used to it. I talked to the coaches, and I had one before the game, but they reassured me. My teammates rallied around me and supported me.
Earlier this week, the San Antonio Spurs traveled to their home opener a few miles away in jerseys of women’s basketball legends like Rebecca Lobo, Cheryl Miller and Becky Hammon.
It’s great, Prince said when asked about the Spurs’ move. That’s what we want. That’s what we deserve. We work just as hard and play very well, so we deserve just as much credit as the men.
Ms. Prince has received a lot of attention since her tweet was retweeted nearly 200,000 times and made national headlines. Last week, she not only advocated for equality in college sports, but also used her surgery and recovery to bring attention to these issues.
It’s great to have such a great platform now and be able to inspire and help so many people and bring attention to my sport because my sport deserves it, Prince said.
I hope they will see that women’s basketball is not boring. It’s nice. It’s exciting, she says. It’s different from men’s basketball, but in a surprising way. We play hard and with our hearts, and there are so many fundamentals. It’s a very different game, so we wanted to show we were fun to watch.
Prince and his frontcourt partner Nyara Saballi shared a long embrace before the call during the win over Georgia. Both players have overcome personal challenges, with extreme injuries and difficult times. Saballi suffered two torn cruciate ligaments, and in 2018, Prince horribly broke her tibia and fibula during a tournament game in Mexico City, where she was playing for the U.S. Under-18 team in the FIBA USA Soccer championship.
I saw a video of us kissing after the game that described us and what we were going through, Prince said through tears. When I came here, we were both heartbroken and didn’t know if we would play basketball again. It’s so much fun to play with her and I love her so much, and to see where we’ve come and to lead this team to the Sweet 16, it’s great, and it’s so good.
Sedona Prince (right) and Nyara Saballi celebrate Oregon’s win Wednesday. Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Prince, a native Texan, spent her freshman year at the University of Texas, where she recovered from an injury and transferred to Oregon in 2019.
As you just saw in this interview, I am fortunate to coach a young woman like her. She really has it all, coach Kelly Graves said. Not only is she a great player, but think about the pressure she was under. She has received a lot of attention and support. And it’s not easy to do. I am very proud of her and happy for her and the whole team.
The Ducks started this season in an uncertain position, losing three starters and welcoming an almost entirely new team. Last season’s team was the favorite for the title, led by superstar Sabrina Ionescu.
But after two early rounds that secured a spot in the Sweet 16, Oregon is in a position to try to recapture the opportunity it missed last year.
It has been a difficult season to live up to expectations. Everyone knows what we lost. Everyone knows the opportunities and chances we had in this tournament last year. It was taken away from us, Graves said. And I think sometimes people just assume we’re going to keep doing this ….. We have nine new players. In a pandemic year this is the worst time for a young team, we haven’t had a chance to work with them yet. But I have said from day one a hundred times that we are going to have problems in March.
Oregon takes on second-seeded Louisville on Sunday.
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