Chloe Jackson scored the go-ahead basket with 40 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter as top-seeded Baylor advanced to the NCAA Women’s Tournament championship game with a 72-67 victory over second-seeded Oregon on Friday night in Tampa, Fla.
Kalani Brown scored 22 points, and Lauren Cox had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Bears (36-1), who won their 28th straight game and will attempt to capture their first title since the Brittney Griner-led undefeated team in 2012.
Baylor, which shot 54.4 percent from the field, will face defending champion Notre Dame after the Irish defeated second-seeded Connecticut 81-76 in the other semifinal Friday night.
Pac-12 Player of the Year Sabrina Ionescu scored 18 points, and Satou Sabally added 16 for the Ducks (33-5), who remained in the contest on the strength of 12 3-pointers despite shooting 36.8 percent from the field overall.
Sabally sank a 3-pointer to even the game at 67 with 1:40 to play, marking the 12th tie of the contest. It didn’t last long, as Jackson benefited from a high screen to breeze past Erin Boley for the go-ahead basket with 40 seconds to play.
Sabally was unable to answer at the other end of the court, as her jumper failed to go down. Cox made a pair of free throws to push Baylor’s lead to 71-67 with 18 seconds left. Ionescu and Sabally each missed 3-point attempts in the closing seconds.
Baylor worked the interior as DiDi Richards made a layup and sank a free throw to push the lead to four early in the fourth quarter, but she committed her fourth foul on the next possession.
Oti Gildon cleaned up Boley’s 3-point misfire for an easy putback to halve the deficit, and teams traded baskets before Oregon went on a 7-0 run.
Ruthy Hebard made a layup, Boley connected on a jumper and Maite Cazorla sank a 3-pointer to give the Ducks a 64-61 lead with 6:13 remaining in the fourth quarter. Cox and Brown answered by each sinking a jumper to regain Baylor’s advantage with 3:50 left.
Boley drained a 3-pointer to give Oregon a 55-52 lead with 1:10 remaining in the third quarter before Brown answered with a jumper on the next possession. Boley misfired on another 3-point attempt, and Cox recorded an offensive rebound and quick putback to give Baylor a 56-55 advantage at the end of the quarter.
The Ducks led 34-33 at halftime after a four-point play by Ionescu with eight seconds remaining.
—Field Level Media