Notre Dame Crowned Women's Basketball Champs After Buzzer Beater


All four were crying in various stages of grief, their eyes already red from earlier sobs that followed Arike Ogunboewale's miraculous shot that lifted Notre Dame to a 61-58 national championship victory.

Roshunda Johnson hit a three with 1:54 remaining to give Mississippi State a 58-53 lead. Marina Mabrey hit a 3-pointer from the wing and Young had a shot in the lane to tie it.

For the fourth consecutive NCAA game, the Irish found themselves trailing at the half.

It was a strategy that seemed to play to Irish weaknesses, and one used by Louisville in the most recent Irish defeat.

"It was the second or third time we beat them in the semifinal, that's been our lucky charm", McGraw said.

He said: "To do that twice in one weekend, the biggest stage in college basketball, it's insane". "Notre Dame made one more play tonight".

On Sunday, Ogunbowale once again delivered, catching the ball with three second left, the score tied 58-58 and making her way to the elbow to launch a contested three.

Collier then scored to make it a three-point game.

Really, no need for anyone to take the blame - unless you want to blame officials who collectively swallowed their whistles when Morgan William was hammered dribbling down the court with four seconds left, trying to get State in position to make the winning shot. It won the game. Many of the Notre Dame alumnae who were on teams that had fallen just short of winning a title were there to enjoy it, including Natalie Achonwa, Natalie Novosel and Becca Bruszewki.

Apparently depth is overrated. Logic suggests there's now some chance ESPN will consider extending the contract another year. "Great support for women's basketball and definitely one of the best Final Fours since 2001, right?"

And it proved prophetic. Give Notre Dame credit for coming back from a 15-point third quarter deficit.

But Mississippi State responded with an 11-0 run in less than two minutes to lead by three (17-14) after one quarter. Instead, the ball was meant to go to Jessica Shepard, who was 8-for-10 from the field with 19 points.

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And with a deeper bench than the now famously-depleted Irish, the Bulldogs could afford to expend some extra energy chasing the Irish ball-handlers around.

"He said it was his fault because he didn't get us home", Blair said. "We just kind of looked at each other like, 'I can't believe it happened again.' It's awesome".

Schaefer's version of the second half?

"You're up five with 1:40, it's my job to get them home, and I didn't get them home", Schaefer said.

The Huskies (36-1) led 41-34 at the half before Notre Dame rallied.

Notre Dame recovered the resulting loose ball. The Bulldogs went 1-for-5 from the free-throw line in that stretch.

This was Notre Dame's second national championship win.

With a dozen or so of her family and friends in attendance at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Cole, a sophomore walk-on for the Irish, had a front-row seat to history.

"It hurts right now", said MSU coach Vic Schaefer. "I'm so proud of them". Notre Dame hit 22 of 52 shots from the field (42.3 percent), 2 of 9 shots from 3-point range (22.2 percent) and 15 of 17 shots from the foul line (88.2 percent). Mississippi State dominated behind 6-foot-7 center Teaira McCowan - who finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds - and held the Irish to just three points in the second quarter with a lock-down defense.

Actually, none of what took place over the first 39:57 mattered. "But the last play, there was just a lot going on".

Arike Ogunbowale put an exclamation point on a thrilling women's college basketball season. We have great kids in that locker room. Not only because you won the national championship but because of the way you did it, with all you overcame. And we just kept fighting. "But we never lost hope - never". "She plays the game at such a high level at times".

Ogunbowale's shot capped the biggest comeback in NCAA championship history.