Notre Dame has won the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship with a score of 61 to Mississippi State’s 58. Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale made the game-winning three-pointer against Mississippi State with 0.1 seconds remaining.
This was Notre Dame’s second national championship win. The win ends a 17 year drought for Notre Dame’s women’s basketball team. The Fighting Irish had not won a title since 2001. They were runners up in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015.
It was Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw’s 800th win at Notre Dame. McGraw was the only female head coach in this year’s Final Four.
Notre Dame and Mississippi State both won dramatic overtime games in the semifinals Friday. Mississippi State beat Louisville by 10 points, and Notre Dame beat UConn with a two-point clutch shot by Ogunbowale. The Irish has finished two games in a row with a win at the buzzer.
In the championship game, the Irish fought their way back from a 15-point deficit to win in the final second. Ogunbowale wasn’t having the best shooting day Sunday. She was missing easy buckets and had two points on 1-for-10 shooting at halftime. She finished the game with 18 points.
Mississippi State had a comfortable 30-17 lead at halftime after outscoring the Irish 13-3 in the second quarter. The Bulldogs’ pressure put the Irish out of rhythm and prevented them from scoring. Notre Dame went on a 16-1 run over the final six minutes of the third quarter to tie the game 41-41 heading into the fourth.
Roshunda Johnson hit a three with 1:54 remaining to give Mississippi State a 58-53 lead. Marina Mabrey answered with Notre Dame’s first three of the night to put the Irish within two with 1:35 remaining. Jackie Young made a jumper to tie it 58-58 with 40.1 seconds left. In the final moments, Young found Ogunbowale on the inbound and she finished with a three-pointer for the win.
Ogunbowale beat both UConn and Mississippi State with a final-second shot. The surprising finishes has gained her a new fan. Kobe Bryant, who has always been Ogunbowale’s favorite player, tweeted a congratulatory message to her Friday, started following her Saturday, and tweeted at her twice Sunday.