Oregon women win their first national tournament

EUGENE, Ore. -- After going her entire college career without a game-winning shot, Cathrine Kraayeveld now has two, and the Oregon Ducks finally have a championship.

Kraayeveld scored on a layup with 2.4 seconds remaining to give Oregon the Women's NIT championship with a 54-52 victory over Houston on Wednesday night. She also scored the game-winner against Oregon State in the second round.

"I wasn't even thinking about (it being a game-winning shot)," Kraayeveld said. "I just took it to the hole, because that's the only thing I thought would work."

Kraayeveld, the tournament MVP, led the Ducks (22-13) with 15
points, all in the second half. She also had 13 rebounds.

Chandi Jones, also named to the all-tournament team, led Houston
(26-8) with 16 points after hitting just two of nine shots in the first half.

With Shaquala Williams, Oregon's leading scorer, struggling,
Houston opened a 43-35 lead midway through the second half. But
Oregon came back with a 10-2 run that included eight points from
Kraayeveld. Williams finished with three points.

"I wouldn't say that we celebrated early, we just came back out sluggish," Jones said. "We didn't make the shots we should have, we didn't rebound like we should have."

Houston regained the lead twice in the final 3½ minutes, the last time coming on a free throw by Jones that made it 50-48 with 1:33 remaining

Oregon came back to take a 51-48 lead when Jamie Craighead hit a
3-pointer to put the Ducks in front 51-50 with 1:20 left. She added
a free throw with 48 seconds to go to push Oregon's lead to two.

Houston tied the game on an inside bucket by Valerie Muoneke
with 32 seconds left.

That set up a potential game-winning 3 by Craighead that missed, going out of bounds off Houston. Oregon then ran the clock down before finding Kraayeveld cutting down the lane for the winning basket.

"We just wanted to lock up on them 5-on-5, and then get the rebound," Cougars coach Joe Curl said. "We didn't. It got away and they got another shot."

The Ducks won a championship in their ninth consecutive postseason appearance. The first eight were in the NCAA Tournament.

"Every year I've been here, I've had the opportunity to cut down the nets," Williams said. "Even though it's not the Pac-10 or NCAA, it's still a championship."

Said Oregon coach Bev Smith: "It wasn't really pretty, but this
trophy is, and that's all that matters."