Friday, 23 August, 2019

Oregon Falls To No. 1 Baylor In First Final Four Appearance

Oregon Star Sabrina Ionescu Puts WNBA on Hold, Returns to Ducks for Senior Season Top WNBA Draft Prospect Sabrina Ionescu Announces Return to Oregon
Cary Erickson | 09 April, 2019, 07:55

After coming out of the huddle, the dynamic post duo of Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox did seem more prepared for the double teams of the Ducks, something that allowed Cox to rack up 7 assists to go along with her 21 points and 11 rebounds.

OR forward Satou Sabally looks to pass as Baylor center Kalani Brown defends during the second half of Friday's Final Four game on the NCAA Tournament in Tampa, Fla.

Baylor made their free throws down the stretch to secure the victory. The score at halftime was 34-33 in favor of the Ducks after Ionescu completed a miraculous 4-point play with eight seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Oregon's Ionescu shot 50 percent from from three point land as Baylor even took over the lead. The Ducks made 12 3-pointers as a team, one shy of matching the Final Four single-game record. They were 1-of-12 from the field in the last six minutes of the game.

Her defense on Ionescu was one of the key elements in Baylor's win, its 28th in a row, but Richards was also the team's leading scorer behind Brown and Cox and made 6 of 10 field goal attempts.

OR guard Sabrina Ionescu is returning for her senior season. "Credit to a really good defensive team".

" "Perseverance" was a big word", Mulkey said. "I think we're going to go down as one of the best teams in program history".

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Baylor, whose only loss was at Stanford in mid-December, trounced its first four opponents in the NCAA tournament by an average of just more than 38 points per game. "We saw bits and pieces of it here and there".

There was never a moment Kalani Brown was thrown off her game. The Aces had been pegged as going for Ionescu, if she became available, or 6-7 Teaira McCowan from Mississippi State.

Could it be that consensus coach of the year Kim Mulkey's team was too good, that it smothered teams by margins such as 25 (South Carolina, in the Sweet 16) and 32 (Iowa, in the Elite Eight) so often that it forgot how to gut out a win? She gave OR a 34-33 halftime lead by making a long 3 while being bumped to the ground by Baylor's DiDi Richards.

In a post on the Player Tribune titled, "A Letter to Ducks Nation", Ionescu wrote Saturday, "I came to the University of OR as a freshman in 2016-2017". OR coach Kelly Graves had said coming into the game that his team would need to make at least 12 3-pointers to have a realistic chance.

Boley drained a 3-pointer to give OR a 55-52 lead with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter before Brown answered with a jumper on the next possession.

Mulkey gave Ionescu a hug and talked to her for a few moments in the postgame handshake line.