Published: Wed, April 10, 2019
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Brown, Cox lead Baylor over Oregon 72-67 into women's final

Brown, Cox lead Baylor over Oregon 72-67 into women's final

We're not doing one of those things where, like, a team appears out of the blue, on the backs of a few good players, and then makes some noise for a season or two before heading back underground. Nah. The Ducks, who face Baylor on Friday night, had fallen one win short of the national semifinals for the second straight year.

Locked in a close game for the first time in weeks, Baylor never flinched.

The loss wasn't for lack of effort.

This game between UConn and the Irish was a rematch of last season's Final Four classic Notre Dame won on a last-second shot by Ogunbowale. During her three seasons at Oregon, Ionescu scored 1,984 career points with 792 assists and 756 rebounds.

They tried. Because Baylor held OR to 10-of-26 shooting in the paint, the Ducks relied even more on outside shots than usual. After the year, and career, she's had at OR, it's easy to understand why. They spent 20 minutes after the game chatting like they were old friends. "We're more comfortable in the 25 to 28 range".

OR was in the Final Four for the first time, finally breaking through under Graves after losing in the Elite Eight the past two years. The players were relaxed.

Reaching the Final Four was a major goal for Ionescu this season after coming to the event past year to pick up an award. When asked in the postgame press conference about whether she has thought about her future, Ionescu powerfully stated a single word: "No".

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"We continue to learn", Ionescu said. "I don't think this locker room wants to feel this way again, so we're going to use this moment to move on and learn from it", Ionescu said. The sky is the limit still for this team.

The Ducks lose Maite Cazorla and Oti Gildon, but should be deeper and perhaps even more talented next season. "I'm excited to have been a part of that this year". The more outgoing Brown spent time to bring Cox out of her shell, and they formed a bond.

In the letter Ionescu also recounts a amusing story about Kobe Bryant doing a video breaking down her game, but it was on ESPN+ ... which neither she, nor any of her friends, had a subscription to.

But watching is learning, and she said she's learned a lot from playing a sidelined role this year. But that's what they were giving us (Friday). I think what Sabrina's done is she's transcending our game.

If Ionescu does leave for the draft, the leadership will fall partially on Hebard's shoulders.

"I came to the University of OR as a freshman in 2016-2017", she wrote in the piece.

Ionescu's play hasn't only been noticed by the fans, but also some of the best basketball players in the world. But the junior guard did not score in the fourth quarter (she was 0-for-7 from the field), as the Ducks shot just 26.3 percent in the final 10 minutes. "This is a program that is going to be around. To be able to come to the Final Four for the first time in an incredible feat".

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