No. 12 seed Belmont fends off Oregon heroics to stun No. 5 Ducks in 2OT thriller

Oregon came up with two huge plays to stay alive against Belmont on Saturday.

But it fell short of a third that it needed as No. 12 seed Belmont prevailed in a 73-70 double overtime thriller to stun the No. 5 seed Ducks in the first round of NCAA tournament play. After Oregon came up with a 3-pointer in the final seconds in regulation to force overtime, Belmont didn't lead again through the bulk of two overtime sessions.

But it led when it counted. Two Destinee Wells free throws with 1:02 remaining gave the Bruins a 72-70 lead. A third with 5 seconds remaining secured the game's final margin. Sedona Prince's desperation 3-point heave missed the mark as time expired.

Belmont guard Kilyn McGuff (12), guard Nikki Baird (23) and forward Tessa Miller (22) celebrate with a teammate after a double-overtime win in a college basketball game against Oregon in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
The Bruins are moving on to Round 2. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Belmont appeared to be en route to a regulation win, leading 50-44 midway through the fourth quarter, thanks to a hot stretch from beyond the 3-point arc. But Oregon rallied and drew up a play for Te-Hina Paopao in the final seconds of regulation to force the first extra session. It worked to perfection and Paopao delivered, hitting a wide-open corner 3-pointer to tie the game at 53-53 with 7.9 seconds remaining.

After fighting back from a five-point deficit in overtime, the Bruins had a chance to secure the win in the final seconds of the extra session. But Oregon's Nyara Sabally came up with a block of a Madison Bartley layup as time expired, sending the game into double-overtime.

This time, there would be no late Oregon heroics, and the Bruins advanced to face Tennessee.

Tuti Jones led the way for Belmont, tallying 22 points and six rebounds while hitting 8-of-11 field goals, including all four of her 3-point attempts. Wells finished with 16 points and seven assists while doing most of her scoring damage from the line, where she hit 8-of-9 attempts.

In a game where both teams struggled from the field, the Bruins secured a big edge from long distance, hitting 12 of 36 (35.7%) attempts from beyond the 3-point arc. Oregon, meanwhile, hit just 4 of 21 (18.8%) of its shots from long distance. Neither team eclipsed 36% shooting from the field.

Sabally established new career highs with 31 points and seven blocks to go with 12 rebounds. Paopao added 18 points, six rebounds and two steals. In the end, it wasn't enough to stave of the Belmont upset.