TAMPA, Florida – Baylor – progressed to the national championship game after a rousing 72-67 victory over Oregon in the Women's Women's Finals on Friday in the Amalie Arena. The Lady Bears will meet the winner of UConn-Notre Dame on their first trip to the NCAA title game since winning in 201
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Cox, not Ionescu, was the triple-double threat
The junior junior guard of Oregon Sabrina Ionescu is the all-time leader of the NCAA in triple-double, but the Baylor clor was Friday's best rounder on the field Space. The 6-foot-4 Cox did the big things with 21 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists, and she did the little things by setting the perfect screen to give Chloe Jackson 41 seconds of playing time Starting signal cleared. In a game that included 12 ties and 12 leadership changes, Baylor was good for 69-67.
Cox forced Oregon's Satou Sabally to make a long 2-point jump on Oregon's next down-drop, a 3-pointer that may have given the Ducks the lead. Sabally, who had nailed a 3-pointer with 1:40, missed this time. Baylor secured the rebound, and Cox threw two free throws on the other end, making it a two-possession game 18 seconds before the end.
Ionescu Had Difficulties
Ionescu made only 6 of 24 field-goal attempts and 25 percent of shots this season was the third worst in a game. Much of Baylor's size is made with Cox and 6-7 Kalani Brown, but the length of the Lady Bears – DiDi Richards and Juicy Landrum – spent most of the game guarding it – bothering Ionescu. She had scored 15 of her 18 points when Richards defended her, but only with 5 of 14 shots. After a scoreless first quarter, Ionescu scored 12 in the second quarter, giving Oregon a one-point advantage at half-time. However, the junior guard scored no goal in the fourth quarter (they were 0-7 for the field) as the Ducks scored only 26.3 percent in the last 10 minutes.
Fighting Styles Played As Expected
The story of the game was simple: Baylor's skill compared to Oregon's versatile perimeter shooting. And it went exactly as expected. The ducks could not hold Cox or Brown low. Baylor's strong post-players scored 43 points in 18-of-26 shooting. The Lady Bears finished the points with 48-20 points. Richards was also a factor with 15 points, mostly with short jumpers on the road.
In the meantime, Oregon Baylor outperformed 36-0 from the 3-point line. The Lady Bears, who came into the game and got fewer points from 3-pointers than any team in the country, tried only three. Oregon coach Kelly Graves announced that his team needs at least 12 3-points to have a realistic chance. That's exactly what the Ducks did – 12 out of 32 – with Erin Boley (14 points) 4 out of 12 tries and Ionescu 4 out of 11. But they still failed.
Oregon struggled to score inside
Baylor's greatness also played in the defensive end. Cox blocked three shots and denied many more. Ruthy Hebard (Oregon Center), who scored an average of 16.4 points per game, scored only four field-hit attempts, none in the first half. Hebard finished with only four points against the Baylor greats.
Oregon actually scored eleven more shots the Lady Bears, but shot only 37 percent for the game and 36 percent for 2-point field goals. The ducks entered the season with 50.5 percent. Oregon's shooting disappeared too late. Baylor prevailed 11-0 in the final 6:12 against Oregon and the Ducks were off the floor during the 1:13 run.
Richards was at both ends
Richards, a 6-1 in the second year, averaging only 6.3 points per game during the regular season, but has scored two-digit hits in the Bayorko's last three NCAA tournament games.
Her defense on Ionescu was one of the key elements in Baylor's victory, the 28th in a row, but Richards was also the team's leading scorer behind Brown and Cox, making 6 of 10 field-goal attempts.