Pamplin Media Group - Ionescu opts to stay at Oregon

Virginia Santiago
April 10, 2019

Kalani Brown scored 22 points and Lauren Cox added 21 as the Bears (36-1) held off Women's Final Four newcomer OR 72-67 Friday to reach the championship game for the first time since 2012.

Baylor (36-1) advanced to play in Sunday's national title game against No. 1 Notre Dame (35-3), which rallied from nine points down late to beat No. 2 CT, 81-76, in the second semifinal, the 50th installment of their bitter rivalry.

Baylor All-Americans Kalani Brown (22 points) and Lauren Cox (21 points) led the way in victory.

Baylor, which shot 54.4 percent from the field, will face defending champion Notre Dame after the Irish defeated second-seeded CT 81-76 in the other semifinal Friday night.

Junior guard Sabrina Ionescu ended up with 18 points in the Ducks' effort.

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In the rush to find something - anything - to nitpick about the most dominant team in women's college basketball this season, a concern emerged among pundits in the days leading up to the Final Four that the Baylor Bears had not proved themselves in enough tight games, of all things. Baylor coach Kim Mulkey isn't concerning herself with perceptions. The Ducks fans, some of whom traveled more than 3,100 miles, showered their team with applause as they sprinted to the locker room.

It's no mystery to OR, OR to the rest of the sports world, that they are the odd one out as far as blue-blood pedigrees go. But when Richards picked up her fourth foul early in the fourth quarter, it was Juicy Landrum defending Ionescu one-on-one in the final 9:29. It put Baylor up for good 69-67 in a game that featured 12 ties and 12 lead changes.

Ionescu averaged 19.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game this season.

This game between UConn and the Irish was a rematch of last season's Final Four classic Notre Dame won on a last-second shot by Ogunbowale. The Ducks, who face Baylor on Friday night, had fallen one win short of the national semifinals for the second straight year.

For its first Final Four appearance in school history, OR seemed unmoved by the increased media attention. I mean, most importantly don't foul stupid. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that she's going to show up and show out for her team tonight. "We didn't hit them tonight, but we're going to learn from it".

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Each of the three other coaches have multiple national championships, and they will all most likely enter the Hall of Fame at the end of their careers.

OR actually got off 11 more shots than the Lady Bears, but shot just 37 percent for the game and 36 percent on 2-point field goals. Baylor missed all three of their 3-point attempts. Sabally had 16, and Erin Boley had 14.

The 5-foot-11 junior guard announced via The Players' Tribune on Saturday night that she will not declare for the WNBA draft. 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.

Little pieces of confetti that appeared to be falling from above an area above the scoreboard occasionally fell to the floor during the game and had to be removed during stoppages in play.

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