March Madness 2019: No. 1 Baylor, Notre Dame will meet in the women’s championship game

first_imgFirst, the Bears went back and forth with the No. 2 seeded Oregon Ducks.Oregon was playing in its first-ever Final Four contest and the two-time champions in Baylor, which was playing with a roster that had never seen the semifinals. Ultimately the Bears punched their ticket to their first title game since the 2011–12 season and used a dominant frontcourt to do so in a 72-67 victory.The team scored 48 points in the paint against the Ducks, and didn’t make a single 3-pointer after only three attempts from beyond the arc. Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox led the efforts with 22 and 21 points, respectively.Oregon held a very early 11-4 lead and had the advantage again after the first half. But, the Ducks eventually grew tired and missed 12 of their last 13 shots. “We might have just worn them out,” Cox said. “We like to run. When you got to run back on defense, stop us in transition, your legs get tired, shots that usually fall might not fall.”The Ducks were led by none other than Sabrina Ionescu, who finished with 18 points on 6-of-24 shooting from the field and 4 of 11 from 3-point range. Ionescu, who just finished her junior year is projected to be the No. 1 pick out of the 2019 WNBA Draft. She has until Sunday to declare.The impressive defeat of Oregon gave Baylor its 28th consecutive win. The Bears have been a force in the postseason outscoring their opponents by more than 38 points per game to become the third team since the field was expanded to 64 to win each of its games on the way to the Final Four by 25 or more points. The title berth comes in coach Kim Mulkey’s 19th season at the helm.”Well, you’re getting to play for a championship,” Mulkey said. “We’ve won 20 Big 12 championships in my tenure, two national championships. Those kids in that locker room get to play for a championship.”It’s not just those kids in the locker room, really it’s all those other kids that are sitting in the stands that played for this program, that are playing for that championship, as well. ‘Perseverance’ was a big word. We persevered. We’re playing Sunday. Y’all be here. I know you will.”The Bears will be joined by the other top seed, the Fighting Irish and will need to use every weapon in its arsenal to knock off the reigning national champions. Notre Dame won one of the most tested battles in college basketball: a matchup against the Geno Auriemma-led UConn Huskies. The two have met in the last two semifinals and both times the Fighting Irish came out on top.In another nail-biter, the largest lead of the entire game being just nine points held by Connecticut in the first and fourth quarters but Notre Dame came away with an 81-76 win.Notre Dame used a second-half surge from Arike Ogunbowale and a game-winning block from Brianna Turner to lock down the victory. No. 1 Baylor and No. 1 Notre Dame will meet in the NCAA women’s title game after two excruciatingly close victories Friday.In total, there were 38 lead changes and 21 ties in the Final Four games and just 10 total points separating the winners. WHAT A BLOCK 😱#WFinalFour | @ndwbb— NCAA WBB (@ncaawbb) April 6, 2019Ogunbowale led all scorers with 23 points and Turner’s defensive effort proved to be enough to return to the title game.The two teams will be dancing all the way to Sunday. Tipoff for the national championship is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET and will air on [email protected]#WFinalFour— NCAA WBB (@ncaawbb) April 6, 2019last_img

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