Ducks fall short against Baylor in Final Four

Oregon Star Sabrina Ionescu Puts WNBA on Hold, Returns to Ducks for Senior Season

Top WNBA Draft Prospect Sabrina Ionescu Announces Return to Oregon

On Friday, the top-seeded Bears (35-1) will face No. 2 OR (33-4), which is making its first appearance in the women's Final Four.

Fans are arriving at Amalie Arena, the 20,900-seat home of the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning that will serve as host of the Division I semifinals Friday night and finals on Sunday.

Baylor enters tonight's national championship game as not only the best team in Division I-A basketball, but also the tallest.

Coach Kim Mulkey won national titles as a player and assistant coach at Louisiana Tech.

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.

Ionescu dashed that on Sunday - much to the delight of Ducks fans - when she announced in a letter published to the Players Tribune that she would be returning to OR for her senior season.

Saturday, the guard stated via The Players' Tribune that she will not leave OR and declare for the WBNA draft, which is Wednesday. "No magical words", Mulkey said.

On Oregon's next trip down the floor, Cox on defense forced Oregon's Satou Sabally to take a long 2-point jump shot rather than a 3-pointer that could have potentially given the Ducks the lead.

The lead never reached more than four points for either team until the final seconds of play, as the Ducks failed to make a basket during the moments it counted most. I'm really proud of them. I just don't know if we ever got our game going.

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".

Sabally joined Ionescu in double figures with 16 points.

"Our practices prepare us for these moments", Mulkey said after Baylor's closest game since a 74-68 win February 4 at Texas.

Together, Brown and Cox average more than 28 points per game, and perhaps more significant than that, they serve as a strong defensive threat, forcing opponents to live and die by outside shots.

We got a taste.

"We're not going anywhere", Graves said during the Ducks" postgame press conference. This is a team that's going to be loaded.

Baylor forward Lauren Cox (15) attempts to pass the ball over OR forward Ruthy Hebard (24) during the Final Four semifinal on Friday. She laid it in easily with her right hand to put the Lady Bears ahead 56-55 as time expired in the third quarter. The Walnut Creek, Calif., product scored 18 points in the loss on Friday.

While Maite Cazorla will be missed, her style fo play will need to be implemented.

Ionescu likely would have been the top pick in the draft, as she dominated the women's tournament and is the all-time leader for triple-doubles with 18 in women's NCAA history.

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