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Season Ends In Double Overtime

Mar 19, 2022

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Oregon's season ended Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament when the Ducks dropped a 73-70 heartbreaker to Belmont in double overtime at Thompson-Boling Arena.

The fifth-seeded Ducks (20-12) forced overtime with a Te-Hina Paopao three-pointer with 8 seconds left in regulation. But the Bruins scored last in the first overtime and again in the second overtime to win in the opening round of the tournament as a No. 12 seed for the second year in a row.

"I thought it was a well-played basketball game by both teams; certainly exciting," UO coach Kelly Graves said. "We both had chances to win in regulation and each overtime, and it just seemed like we didn't make that right play — other than that shot at the end of regulation — that we needed to."

Nyara Sabally had her third double-double in three postseason games this season for the Ducks, finishing with 31 points and 12 rebounds. She tied the UO record for points in an NCAA Tournament game set by Sabrina Ionescu in 2019, and she set a school record for blocked shots in an NCAA Tournament game with seven.

Paopao added 18 points in her NCAA Tournament debut, but the Ducks weren't able to use their size in the post to enough of an advantage to offset Belmont's 12 made three-pointers.

"I didn't think they could make enough twos to beat us," Graves said. "I still stand by that. But they got 12 threes."

How It Happened: The Ducks led 42-36 early in the fourth quarter, as the game began as one of many across the country in the NCAA Tournament that was low-scoring. An 8-0 run gave the Bruins the lead, and after Sabally scored to tie it 44-44, Belmont scored another six straight. A basket by Endyia Rogers and two Sabally free throws got Oregon within two, and Sabally fed Sedona Prince for the game-tying basket.

A turnover and a miss by Sabally were followed by Belmont free throws as the Bruins took a 53-50 lead. The Ducks took timeout with 14.6 seconds left, then got the ball into the post for Sabally, who kicked to Paopao in the corner for a game-tying three.

"I wasn't shooting the ball particularly well from the perimeter, but that just goes to show my coaches have faith and trust in me," Paopao said. "And Nyara had a great pass to me, and I knocked it down."

Oregon opened the first overtime with six straight points, and the lead was 63-58 after a make by Prince with 1:35 left. Belmont answered that basket to get within three, and after a UO miss the Bruins banked in their 12th three-pointer of the game. Each team made 1-of-2 free throws, and the game remained tied after the first overtime, 64-64.

Again the Ducks started strong in the second overtime, with baskets from Sabally and Prince for a 68-64 lead. After Belmont tied it, Sabally scored again, but that was Oregon's last lead at 70-68. Belmont scored on each of its last three possessions, while the Ducks didn't score in the final 2 minutes.

The Ducks played from behind early, after Belmont hit threes on three straight possessions for a 9-2 lead, while Oregon missed seven straight shots. The Ducks finally found their footing in the second quarter, using a 12-0 run capped by a Maddie Scherr three-pointer to take a 24-16 lead. Belmont cut the lead to 28-26 at halftime, then pulled in front 33-32 early in the third before Oregon clawed back in front to lead 40-36 entering the fourth.

Who Stood Out: Sabally was 12-of-24 shooting on the way to 31 points, and had seven blocks plus three steals along with her 12 rebounds. Paopao was 8-of-17 from the field with six rebounds, and Prince added nine points with nine rebounds.

"It looks good on paper, but I don't really feel great right now," Sabally said. "I could've put up 60 points and I wouldn't care in a loss."

What It Means: The Ducks had made four straight Sweet Sixteen appearances in the NCAA Tournament. They lost in the first round for the first time since 2001, a loss to Iowa that also went to overtime, as did a first-round defeat to Alabama-Birmingham in 2000.

"Just kind of been our season in a nutshell, to be honest," Graves said. "We just have never been able to really put it together, from injuries early in the season to some inconsistency late."