Arike Ogunbowale’s Buzzer-Beater Lifts Notre Dame To NCAA Women’s Basketball Title

by Samuel Abasi Posted on April 2nd, 2018

Columbus, Ohio: Guard Arike Ogunbowale sank a last-second shot (again), Sunday, to win Notre Dame’s first women’s basketball national championship since 2001. The Fighting Irish rallied in the second half to defeat Mississippi State, 61-58, and claim the national title.

With three seconds remaining, Mississippi State’s 6-foot-7 center Teaira McCowan drew her fifth foul during a wild scramble at midcourt to prevent the Irish from getting a wide-open layup.

Notre Dame inbounded the ball and Ogunbowale, who hit a shot from just inside the 3-point arc to defeat Connecticut, 91-89, with one second remaining in overtime in their semifinal on Friday, dribbled to the right side and lofted a high, arcing jumper over Mississippi State’s Victoria Vivians.

Notre Dame (35-3) shot just 2 for 9 from 3-point range, but Ogunbowale, who scored 18 points, hit the one that mattered. The Irish prevailed despite scoring only 3 points in the second quarter and trailing by 40-25 in the third before a furious comeback. Forward Jessica Shepard led Notre Dame with 19 points.

For Mississippi State (37-2), Ogunbowale’s shot brought the sting of losing a national championship game for a second consecutive year. This will be a particularly difficult defeat to accept, with a huge and seemingly unassailable lead evaporating down the stretch. Vivians finished with 21 points and McCowan collected 18 points and 17 rebounds, but that will provide no consolation, only empty numbers.

With a stirring display of resilience this season, the Irish overcame a dispiriting series of knee injuries and persevered until their players hoisted the championship trophy.

Arike Ogunbowale’s late rescuing shot was a repeat of what she did to beat UConn in the Semifinals on friday. Notre Dame now has two titles. This was the first title for Notre Dame and Coach Muffet McGraw since 2001, and it ended a frustrating series of defeats in the championship game: to Texas A&M in 2011, Baylor in 2012 and Connecticut in 2014 and 2015.

EARLIER: 2018 NCAA Women’s Tournament Bracket Revealed On Selection Monday – College Station, Texas, USA: Texas A&M, University of Texas and Baylor women get first-round NCAA home games. Texas A&M will play host to the first two rounds of the NCAA women’s tournament, as the fourth-seeded Aggies will take on 13th-seeded Bulldogs, Drake, on Friday in Reed Arena, the NCAA announced ‘Selection Monday’ night. Baylor, the Lady Bears (31-1) starts its tournament run at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Waco against No. 15 Grambling (19-13), while Texas Longhorns (26-6) opens play against No. 15 Maine Black Bears (23-9) at 5 p.m. Saturday in Austin.

Should Texas and Baylor run through the first four rounds of the bracket, they’ll meet on March 30 in Columbus, Ohio in the Final Four. Baylor hasn’t been past the Elite Eight since winning the national title in 2012, while the Longhorns are looking to be among the last eight teams remaining for the second time in three years. The Longhorns (26-6) are No. 2.

The Longhorns have four players averaging double figures, and a frontcourt featuring 6-foot-4 Jatarie White and 6-3 Joyner Holmes. Baylor lost senior point guard Kristy Wallace to an ACL injury on Senior Night but freshman Alexis Morris stepped in and they beat Texas for the Big 12 tournament title.

The Texas A&M Aggies (24-9) host 13-seed Drake (26-7) at 1:30 p.m. Friday in College Station. The College Station regional also includes fifth seed DePaul and 12th seed Oklahoma. The Texas A&M Aggies under coach Gary Blair continued their school record with 13 consecutive NCAA tournaments. A&M won the national title in 2011.

The Austin field includes the Longhorns’ opening-round opponent, No. 15 Maine, and No. 7 Arizona State and No. 10 Nebraska.

The Waco field includes the Lady Bears’ opening-round opponent, No. 15 Grambling, and No. 7 Michigan and No. 10 Northern Colorado.

UConn is back in a familiar place — the No. 1 overall seed in the women’s basketball NCAA Tournament.

Joining the Huskies as top seeds are Notre Dame, Louisville and Mississippi State.

The challenge for teams in women’s college basketball in the NCAA tournament is to keep UConn, the overall No. 1 seed, from going home with the trophy for the fifth time in six years. The Huskies enter as the lone unbeaten team and will be vying for their 12th national championship. It’s the ninth time that UConn has entered the NCAAs undefeated, including last year when the Huskies went in as the overwhelming favorite before their 111-game winning streak ended with a loss to Mississippi State in the Final Four. Defending national champion South Carolina and A’ja Wilson await as a possible Elite Eight matchup for UConn in the Albany Regional.

Perhaps the most thrilled team in the field was Oklahoma, which danced on a tight wire but made the tournament as a No. 10 seed in the Spokane regional. The Sooners will play No. 5 DePaul in the opener. Oklahoma City also made the tournament from the Big 12.

There was an audible roar when ESPN announced that South Carolina is the No. 2 seed in the Albany Regional. With UConn as the No. 1 seed in the region, the Longhorns avoided the nation’s top-ranked team. The Huskies were named the tournament’s overall No. 1 seed.

Texas enters the tournament ranked No. 8 in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll.

This will be the third straight year the Longhorns play host to the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Austin. In 2016 the Longhorns defeated Missouri to reach the Sweet 16 and beat North Carolina State last year to advance.

This is the 19th time the Longhorns have played host to the tournament since 1983.

The NCAA Tournament represents the final games for three UT seniors — Brooke McCarty, Ariel Atkins and Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau. Caron-Goudreau has missed the last eight games with an injured wrist. Her status for the tournament remains day-to-day, according to UT officials.

The top 4 seeds in each region will host the first two rounds on campus between March 16-19. The teams that advance to the sweet 16 will then play at pre-determined site on the second weekend of the tournament. Sweet 16 and Elite Eight: To be played in either Lexington, Ky., Kansas City, Mo., Albany, N.Y. or Spokane, Wash. between March 23-26. The Final Four will be March 30 and championship on April 1 in Columbus, Ohio.

Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament: Regions

Albany Regional

No. 1 UConn vs. No. 16 St. Francis | 11 a.m. | Saturday | Stores, Conn. | ESPN2
No. 8 Miami vs. No. 9 Quinnipiac | 1:30 p.m. | Saturday | Stores, Conn. | ESPN2
No. 5 Duke vs. No. 12 Belmont | 11 a.m. | Saturday | Athens, Ga., | ESPN2
No. 4 Georgia vs. No. 13 Mercer | 1:30 p.m. | Saturday | Athens Ga., | ESPN2
No. 6 South Florida vs. No. 11 Buffalo | 1:30 p.m. | Saturday | Tallahassee, Fla., | ESPN2
No. 3 Florida State vs. No. 14 UA-Little Rock | 11 a.m. | Saturday | Tallahassee, Fla., | ESPN2
No. 7 California vs. No. 10 Virginia | 5 p.m. | Friday | Columbia, S.C. | ESPN2
No. 2 South Carolina vs. No. 15 North Carolina A&T | 7:30 p.m. | Columbia, S.C. | ESPN2

Spokane Regional

No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 16 CSU Northridge | 5 p.m. | Friday | South Bend, Ind. | ESPN2
No. 8 South Dakota State vs. No. 9 Villanova | 7:30 p.m. |Friday | South Bend, Ind. | ESPN2
No. 5 DePaul vs. No. 12 Oklahoma | Noon | Friday | College Station, Texas | ESPN2
No. 4 Texas A&M vs. No. 13 Drake | 2:30 p.m. | Friday | College Station, Texas | ESPN2
No. 6 LSU vs. No. 11 Central Michigan | 11 a.m. | Saturday | Columbus, Ohio | ESPN2
No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 14 George Washington | 1:30 p.m. | Saturday | Columbus, Ohio | ESPN2
No. 7 Green Bay vs. No. 10 Minnesota | 5 p.m. | Friday Eugene, Ore. | ESPN2
No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 15 Seattle | 7: 30 p.m. | Friday | Eugene, Ore. | ESPN2

Lexington Regional

No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 16 Boise State | Noon | Friday | Louisville, Ky. | ESPN2
No. 8 Marquette vs. No. 9 Dayton | 2:30 p.m. | Friday | Louisville, Ky. | ESPN2
No. 5 Missouri vs. No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast | 3:30 p.m. | Saturday | Palo Alto, Calif., | ESPN2
No. 4 Stanford vs. No. 13 Gonzaga | 6 p.m. | Saturday | Palo Alto, Calif., | ESPN2
No. 6 Oregon State vs. No. 11 Western Kentucky | Noon | Friday | Knoxville, Tenn., | ESPN2
No. 3 Tennessee vs. No. 14 Liberty | 2:30 p.m. |Friday | Knoxville, Tenn., | ESPN2
No. 7 Michigan vs. Northern Colorado | 5 p.m. | Friday | Waco, Texas | ESPN2
No. 2 Baylor vs. No. 15 Grambling | 7:30 p.m. | Friday | Waco, Texas | ESPN2

Kansas City Regional

No. 1 Mississippi State vs. No. 16 Nicholls | 6 p.m. | Saturday | Starkville, Miss., | ESPN2
No. 8 Syracuse vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State | 3:30 p.m. | Saturday | Starkville, Miss., | ESPN2
No. 5 Maryland vs. No. 12 Princeton | Noon | Friday | Raleigh, N.C. | ESPN2
No. 4 NC State vs. No. 13 Elon | 2:30 p.m. | Friday | Raleigh, N.C. | ESPN2
No. 6 Iowa vs. No. 11 Creighton | 6 p.m. | Saturday | Los Angeles | ESPN2
No. 3 UCLA vs. No. 14 American | 3:30 p.m. | Saturday | Los Angeles | ESPN2
No. 7 Arizona State vs. No. 10 Nebraska | 3:30 p.m. | Saturday | Austin, Texas | ESPN2
No. 2 Texas vs. No. 15 Maine | 6 p.m. | Saturday | Austin, Texas | ESPN2

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Samuel Abasi

Samuel Abasi

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