Freshmen lead 10th-seeded Oregon to 77-63 upset of Maryland

PAT EATON-ROBB (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) -- Oregon's young players say they feel excited and loose. They play that way, too.

Sabrina Ionescu scored 21 points, fellow freshman Ruthy Hebard had 16 and the 10th-seeded Ducks continued their improbable run through the NCAA Tournament with a 77-63 victory over Maryland on Saturday.

Oregon (23-13) put five players in double figures on its way to the first regional final in program history. It will play No. 1 seed UConn in the next round on Monday.

''We're just excited about everything,'' Ionescu said. ''None of our kids have experienced anything like this. So, I think we're just excited to advance and be able play another day and see where that takes us.''

Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough each had 16 points for third-seeded Maryland, which finishes the season at 32-3.

The Terps, who average more than 90 points a game to lead the nation, were held to their lowest point total this season. They turned the ball over 21 times, leading to 18 Oregon points.

''I just think it was just one of those days,'' said guard Destiny Slocum, who finished with nine points and five turnovers. ''We kind of lost our game, and I think, even though this was a low-scoring game, we were trying our best, doing anything we could do. I don't think there's really an answer for it.''

Oregon coach Kelly Graves said before the game that his young team that starts three freshmen may not know it's not supposed to be winning. The Ducks became the second No. 10 seed to advance to a regional final, joining the 1991 Lamar team.

''They just continue to show great poise,'' Graves said.

Maite Cazorla scored 15 points for Oregon, and reserve Oti Gildon had 11. Lexi Bando finished with 10 points.

Oregon led by nine at halftime and made seven straight shots late in the third quarter to extend its advantage to 59-45.

A steal and basket by Walker-Kimbrough cut the lead to 69-63 with just over 3 minutes left, capping an 8-0 Maryland run. But Ionescu answered with a basket and the Terps were called for an offensive foul on the other end, ending the threat.

The Terps, who average more than six 3-pointers a game, were 0 for 6 from behind the arc.

''They took the air out of the ball, which was a really smart move by them,'' Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. ''We've seen that in the past. But we didn't handle it well at all. Then it felt like every time we would get it to within six points, we would have some sort of breakdown, whether it was off of an (offensive) board, whether it was a defensive stop, and then they would break it back open.''

Ionescu had 11 points, three rebounds and three assists in the first 20 minutes. She finished with seven assists and six rebounds.

The Terps were able to stay close in the first half thanks to Brionna Jones, who had 10 points and seven rebounds before the break. She finished with 15 boards.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: The Terps dropped to 32-12 in the NCAA Tournament under Frese. It was Maryland's 13th trip to the regional semifinals, where it is 10-3. The Terps were knocked out of the tournament by a team from the Pac-12 for the second straight year. Washington beat them in the second round a year ago.

Oregon: This is the Ducks' longest-ever run through the NCAA Tournament. Their freshman had accounted for more than 63 percent of their scoring in the tournament coming into the game, and they had 41 points in this one.

''I think once we step on the court, we're all just ballplayers,'' Hebard said. ''It doesn't matter grade you're in, how young you are, so I think we just go on the court every day wanting to win, and we try our best.''

TRAVEL

The Ducks have flown 11,652 miles during the NCAA Tournament.

''Over the last five days we went cross-country twice, had final exams, played a great team, three great teams in this tournament,'' Graves said. ''And you know, they continue to show poise down the stretch, and I'll tell you, it's just impressive to watch.''

BEYOND THE ARC

Oregon's 3-point specialist Lexi Bando went 3 for 8 from beyond the arc, but a 3-pointer in the third quarter was the 200th of her career.

CALLING IT A CAREER

Maryland's seniors end their careers with 125 wins and two trips to the Final Four.

''I couldn't imagine playing in any other school, and I'm glad that I chose Maryland,'' Brionna Jones said. ''And just the player I've developed myself into, and I think credit to the coaches and the players I've gotten a chance to play with, and it's just been an amazing experience.''

UP NEXT

Oregon takes on top-seeded UConn on Monday. The Huskies advanced with an 86-75 victory over UCLA.

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