Kalani Brown scored 22 points and Lauren Cox added 21 as Baylor held off Final Four newcomer OR 72-67 Friday night to reach the NCAA women's basketball championship game for the first time since 2012.
The Bears had three different players in double figures led by Kalani Brown with 19 points.
The victor will face either defending national champion Notre Dame or 11-time champ CT, who are set to collide in Friday's second game starting at about 6:30 p.m. PT. Cox made a pair of free throws to push Baylor's lead to 71-67 with 18 seconds left. After a scoreless first quarter, Ionescu scored 12 in the second, which gave OR a one-point lead at halftime.
Fortunately for OR, the Ducks play a different style of basketball than their national semifinal opponent. In doing so, the Bears became only the third team since the field was expanded to 64 teams to win each of its games en route to the Final Four by 25-plus points. "Credit them. A really good defensive team". They closed the first quarter with a 15-4 run, and the teams traded highlight reel-worthy plays - a powerful block by Cox here, another 3 from Boley there - to swap the lead until halftime.
The Oregon Ducks star, a favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft this year, announced that she will be returning to Oregon for her senior season on Saturday night in The Players' Tribune. The La Vega graduate also had four turnovers, so it wasn't her best effort protecting the basketball, either. "No magical words", Mulkey said. "They just look at each other and they know that one's going to be over here and one's going to be over there", sophomore guard Didi Richards said.
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He added: "We have 82 points now, that is massive in this insane league and everyone is waiting for us (to slip up). As Liverpool struggled in the second half, it seemed like the advantage would go to City.
Baylor hasn't lost since before Christmas and trounced its first four opponents in the NCAA tournament by an average of just over 38 points per game. "If we can get here again, or sometime soon, now we'll have a little bit of experience and that always helps". "They shot 36.8. You're going to win a lot of basketball games if you do that".
Tied at 67 with less than a minute remaining, Ionescu used a screen from Hebard to create minimal separation from Landrum, who was able to get back in position to force an off-balance layup attempt. "We're building something - together - that's going to last for a long time after we've all graduated".
In the letter, which is titled "A letter to Ducks nation", she made it clear, though: She had "unfinished business". The Lady Bears are 218-1 all-time when shooting better than 50 percent from the field.
Baylor defeated OR 72-67 by pounding the post. The Walnut Creek, Calif., product scored 18 points in the loss on Friday.
Mulkey gave Ionescu a hug and talked to her for a few moments in the postgame handshake line.