Up one with 15 seconds remaining in overtime, No. 2 seed Baylor avoided getting fouled and found Moon Ursin wide-open down low for an easy layup that forced No. 6 seed Michigan’s Leigha Brown to take a desperation 3-pointer at the other end, which she missed, and the Lady Bears held on to defeat the Wolverines 78-75.
Baylor, which was led by NaLyssa Smith’s 24 points on 11-of-11 shooting from the field, advances to play No. 1 seed UConn in the River Walk Region final.
Ursin finished with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists.
DiJonai Carrington (19 points, seven rebounds, four steals) make quite a few clutch plays in this game, the last of which was a steal and fast break layup that made it 75-73 Baylor with 1:11 to go in overtime. Michigan had taken its first lead of the game on a jumper by Akienreh Johnson (14 points) 36 seconds into overtime.
Ursin had a chance to win the game in regulation but missed a mid-range look off the front of the rim with three seconds left and Danielle Rauch got the rebound and called timeout with 0.4 seconds left. Michigan couldn’t get another shot off before overtime.
A lefty layup from Naz Hillmon (16 points, seven rebounds) tied the game with 15 seconds to go after Leigha Brown (23 points, seven rebounds) had made two ultra-clutch shots in the final two minutes. The first was a step-back mid-range shot that went down to cut it to three with 1:45 to go. The second was stop-and-shoot in the lane that bounced up off the rim and back down through the net to cut it to one with 52 ticks left.
A Brown triple cut it to four with 5:06 to go, a Rauch triple cut it to three with 4:01 to go and a Johnson three cut it to two with 2:57 to go. But then Carrington made a clutch steal and an incredible 3-point play to push Baylor’s lead back to five with 2:06 to go.
An 8-0 Baylor run took the score from 39-36 in favor of the Lady Bears to 47-36 with 1:33 to go in the third.
Earlier, the Wolverines battled back after a 9-0 Baylor run with a 12-2 run of their own that featured four 3-pointers (two from Johnson) and cut their deficit to two 53 seconds into the second half.
Smith was phenomenal in the first quarter with 10 points and finished the first half 6-of-6 from the field with 13 points. She had eight of Baylor’s first 10 and made a key 3-pointer to put her team up 23-17 with 5:44 to go in the second. She was 2-of-12 from distance this season entering the contest.
After that triple, Baylor had a great stretch of selfless basketball with Smith notching two beautiful assists to Caitlin Bickle (who also took a charge from Hillmon during the stretch) and DiDi Richards (eight rebounds, nine assists) recording a helper to Ursin in-between. Those three baskets along with the Smith three comprised a 9-0 run that made the score 29-17.