LADY BEARS 72 - DUCKS 67
The No. 2 seed Oregon Ducks (33-5, 16-2) fell to the No. 1 seed Baylor Lady Bears (36-1, 18-0) in the Final Four by a score of 72 to 67. The game was competitive throughout but ultimately the Ducks weren’t able to stop the talented Lady Bears from dominating the paint on offense and defense.
The size and length of the Lady Bears greatly disrupted Oregon’s offense. They held Hebard scoreless in the first half, rushed three-point shooters and forced the Ducks into eight turnovers. Even Sabrina Ionescu had trouble finding her rhythm against the tenacious Baylor defense, failing to score until the second quarter.
Baylor opened up the scoring with a Kalani Brown layup, a sight that would become all too familiar throughout the game. Satou Sabally did well to tie it with a jumper and then tied it again after a Lauren Cox score. Sabally then took the lead with a free throw and Erin Boley expanded the Duck lead to 11-4 by draining back-to-back triples.
The Lady Bears responded with a 10-0 run, building a three-point lead before senior Maite Cazorla’s first score was able to stop the bleeding. DiDi Richards scored four consecutive points but Cazorla once again corrected the course, this time by stealing the ball from Juicy Landrum and breaking away for the score. Brown split a pair of free throws after being fouled by Lydia Giomi and Baylor finished the first quarter with a 19-15 lead.
Oti Gildon snatched Ionescu’s missed layup and cut the lead to two and Ionescu tied the game 19-19 with a jumper. Landrum took back the lead with a jumper but Ionescu answered with a triple. Richard and Cox were the next two to score, but Morgan Yaeger was able to contribute off the bench by evening the score.
Baylor scored the next five points before Ionescu connected on another triple. Cox gave the Lady Bears a 31-27 lead with 2:05 left but Boley connected on her third triple of the half. Brown gave the Lady Bears a three-point lead with about a minute left but her next shot was off the mark and gave the Ducks a chance at the last shot.
With eight seconds left, Ionescu drained a three-pointer while being fouled by Richards. The Oregon contingent in Tampa erupted as Ionescu sunk her shot from the charity stripe to put the Ducks up 34-33 at the half.
*Sabrina Ionescu (40 min) 18 PTS - 4 REB - 6 AST - 6/24 FG - 4/11 3PT - 2/2 FT
*Satou Sabally (22 min) 16 PTS - 3 REB - 2 AST - 1 STL - 5/13 FG - 3/7 3PT - 3/4 FT
*Erin Boley (38 min) 14 PTS - 1 REB - 1 BLK - 1 STL - 5/13 FG - 4/12 3 PT
*Maite Cazorla (39 min) 9 PTS - 6 REB - 4 AST - 1 STL - 4/8 FG - 1/2 3PT
*Ruthy Hebard (36 min) 4 PTS - 9 REB - 3 STL - 2/4 FG - 0/1 FT
Oti Gildon (18 min) 4 PTS - 3 REB - 1 AST - 1 STL - 2/4 FG
Morgan Yaeger (3 min) 2 PTS - 1/1 FG
Lydia Giomi (4 min) 2 REB - 1 AST - 0/1 FG
Kalani Brown (36 min) 22 PTS - 7 REB - 2 AST - 1 BLK - 9/12 FG - 4/8 FT
Lauren Cox (40 min) 21 PTS - 11 REB - 7 AST - 3 BLK - 2 STL - 9/14 FG - 0/1 3PT - 3/4 FT
DiDi Richards (35 min) 15 PTS - 1 REB - 2 AST - 1 STL - 6/10 FG - 3/3 FT
Chloe Jackson (40 min) 6 PTS - 7 REB - 6 AST - 3/11 FG
Juicy Landrum (39 min) 6 PTS - 9 REB - 1 AST - 1 BLK - 2 STL - 3/8 FG - 0/2 3 PT
DiDi Richards quickly took the lead back for the Lady Bears, but Sabally was sure to make her presence known with a triple after missing much of the first half due to early foul trouble. Cox tied the game at 37-37 but Ionescu continued Oregon’s success from downtown to reclaim the lead.
Baylor went on an 8-0 run, but luckily Cazorla was again able to break the streak with a jumper. Chloe Jackson’s first score put the Lady Bears up by five but was followed by Ruthy Hebard’s first bucket of the night. Sabally hit a triple to tie it but Jackson quickly countered after having found her shot.
Down by two with 1:34 left in the third, Ionescu again completed a shot while being fouled by RIchards. Her made free throw gave the Ducks a one-point lead but brown was able to tie it with a free throw of her own. A clutch three-pointer from Boley gave Oregon a three point lead, but Baylors’ bigs both scored in the paint to give their team the 56-55 lead going into the final quarter of the Final Four.
Richards played through her foul trouble and even drew a foul of her own against Sabally. The result of the foul was some more bench time for Sabally after picking up her fourth as well as an and-one from Richards to expand the lead to four. Oti Gildon then got the steal and bucket but Landrum quickly responded with a layup.
Hebard struck again to cut the lead to two and then Boley made a jumper to tie it at 61 apiece. A Cazorla triple capped the 7-0 run from the Ducks but Cox and Brown teamed up for their own 7-0 run. Sabally hit a triple to tie the score at 67 to 67 but Chloe Jackson was able to take advantage of some lax Duck defense and make an uncontested drive to the hoop that would give the Lady Bears a two-point lead with 41 seconds remaining.
Sabally lined up for the three-pointer on the other side of the court but a charging defender made her readjust for the mid-range jumper, a shot that she unfortunately missed. Cazorla and Boley were forced to foul and Lauren Cox went to the line and made both shots.
Ionescu and Sabally would both get looks from downtown but neither found their target and the Lady Bears were able to ice the win with a free throw at the three second mark.
The Ducks shot just 36.9 percent from the floor and were unable to make a handful of high-percentage shots in the final stretch of the game. The Lady Bears may have been 0-for-3 from three-point land, but they dominated the paint. And although she found her touch in the second and third quarter, Ionescu was shutout in the first and fourth.
A playoff loss is always hard to stomach, but this team should feel excited for what they’ve accomplished this season. Most of the team will be back next season (still waiting on Ionescu’s decision between remaining a Duck or going pro) and these Ducks were able to make program history by advancing to their first ever final four.
Seniors Oti Gildon and Maite Cazorla should feel especially proud of their accomplishments. This team would be nothing without their contributions in establishing this program. Coach Kelly Graves seems to be in for the long haul, so there’s no reason to believe these Ducks wont be able to repeat their success next season.
Chin up, Duck fans! Things look brighter than ever for Oregon Women’s Basketball!
NEXT UP: A long offseason!
"It's going to go down as one of the best seasons in history. We've proved that through these couple years, we've earned the right to be here and next year just go out and do even more now that we got a taste of this" Sabrina Ionescu and @OregonWBB reflect on this season #GoDucks pic.twitter.com/DrZSKALycu— Orlando Sanchez (@orlandokgw) April 6, 2019