Jayhawks sent packing as Ducks fly to Final Four

Ross Houston
April 7, 2017

OR is back in the Final Four for the first time since 1939 after a 74-60 win over top-seeded Kansas in the Midwest Regional final on Saturday night at Sprint Center.

The Ducks led 17-16 after a back-and-forth opening period that featured 10 lead changes and no advantage larger than three points.

Now, Oregon awaits the victor of UNC-Kentucky while Gonzaga plays either SC or Florida for a chance to go to the title game.

Frank Mason led Kansas with 21 points and four assists.

Kansas started off rocky as freshman Josh Jackson picked up two fouls in the first three minutes of the game.

ACC Player of the Year Shakayla Thomas notched her third straight double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Seminoles (28-6). And the last time the Ducks were on the big stage, it was 1939 and the Tall Firs took home the title. But that wasn't his only area of production, because Bell also added 11 points and 13 rebounds, making him just two blocks shy of a triple-double.

The bus carrying the Ducks to Sprint Center on Saturday passed right by the Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City, where thousands of Jayhawk fans were rallying hours before the tipoff. There were 18,643 fans here to see it, nearly all of them in blue.

But the torrid shooting of Brooks, Ennis and Dorsey quickly riled up the small section of OR fans while deflating the rest of sold-out Sprint Center. While the Ducks are down to mainly a six man rotation they've proven that they can beat anyone as long as they can keep Jordan Bell on the floor protecting the basket. And the frustration was on the Jayhawks bench was only compounded every time Jackson or Graham tossed up a shot that clanked hollowly off the iron, their sense of desperation growing with every squandered opportunity.

Jackson didn't score until midway through the second half, and said later he'd "never been in such a tough position".

"We played kind of tight, " Graham said. They extended the lead to 18 points (55-37) before Kansas made a run to close the deficit to six.

The Maryland offense, which averaged more than 90 points to lead the nation, was held to its lowest point total of the season.

It only seemed appropriate that the last six points OR scored were two by Bell following his seventh offensive board then Dorsey hitting the final four points on free throws.

Head coach Bill Self is now 2-7 in Elite Eight games, which wasn't lost on Lawrence PD. Kansas should have too many weapons for OR to keep pace with, which will force the Ducks to have to be more aggressive on offense and lead to a high-scoring game. The defense, a soft spot in the past, shut down the underdog and 11th-seeded Musketeers (24-14) to win the West Region.

Sure, there will still be one traditional powerhouse at the Final Four in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, Arizona.

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

The pace of play in the first quarter favored the Ducks, who came in with the intent to limit possessions for Maryland. Four Ducks, including Dorsey, had double-digit points.

Kansas and OR feature 4-guard starting line-ups.

The Zags struggled to find an offensive rhythm against the Mountaineers - who doesn't? - but had it flowing against Xavier.

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