Baylor, Notre Dame advance to women’s NCAA final

TAMPA, Fla. — The game was billed as old school versus new school. The bruising, defensive-minded bigs of the Baylor Bears against the spread-the-floor, pick-and-roll, 3-point-launching Oregon Ducks.

And there was Baylor’s powerhouse duo in the post — the 6-foot-7 Kalani Brown and the 6-4 Lauren Cox — versus Oregon’s state-of-the-art, triple-double machine in the backcourt, Sabrina Ionescu.

In a thrilling semifinal of the NCAA tournament, old school triumphed. With a 72-67 victory Friday, Baylor (36-1) advanced to Sunday’s final, where it will seek its first national title since 2012 against defending national chamion Notre Dame. The Bears also won the title in 2005.

Brown tallied 22 points, and Cox had 21.

Ionescu, a Miramonte-Orinda alum who is the NCAA career leader in triple-doubles for men and women, finished with 18 points, six assists and four rebounds for Oregon, which was making its first Final Four appearance.

For Baylor, the Ducks(33-5) were the first real challenge of this tournament. Entering the Final Four, the Lady Bears had rolled over their opponents by an average margin of 38.2 points.

“They played like champions today and deserve to move on,” Oregon coach Kelly Graves said of the Bears.

Notre Dame 81, UConn 76: Arike Ogunbowale scored 23 points and helped the Irish rally from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat the Huskies.

The Irish now are positioned to become the fourth school to win consecutive championships — UConn, Tennessee and USC have done it.

Notre Dame (35-3) trailed 64-55 early in the fourth quarter before scoring 13 of the next 15 to take a 68-66 lead on Ogunbowale’s short jumper with 3:56 left. The teams then traded the lead five times over the next few minutes with Jessica Shepard hitting a jumper from the foul line with 1:27 left to put the Irish ahead for good, 75-74.

Katie Lou Samuelson scored 20 points for UConn (35-3).

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/Baylor-Notre-Dame-advance-to-women-s-NCAA-final-13746348.php.

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