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Final Four hero lifts Notre Dame to title

04 April 2018

Mississippi State controlled most of the game, leading by 13 at halftime. It's the difference between McGraw and Ogunbowale sprinting from post-game station to station and Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer cradling an arm around Blair Schaefer and Morgan William in the hallway and holding back tears afterward.

Irish junior guard Arike Ogunbowale goes up for a layup during Notre Dame's 61-58 win over Mississippi State in the national title game on Sunday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. "The crowd was tremendous tonight".

"I'm just so speechless at this point to see this team come back from yet another huge deficit".

After a women's tournament and a Final Four like those we had this year, the excuses for not watching ― that the basketball is not high enough quality, that there isn't enough drama, that the athleticism is lacking, that no one dunks ― are harder to make. During those 10 minutes, the Irish turned the ball over eight times. That last one more than made up for any inefficiency.

Two shots - one for each of the buzzer-beaters Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale delivered that gave the Irish their first women's basketball national championship since 2001.

Ogunbowale beat both UConn and Mississippi State with a final-second shot.

The game was everything that could be imagined for a national championship, although it was sloppy at times. They say Ogunbowale is made for the big stage.

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Along with hitting the game-winning shot Ogunbowale was also named the tournament's most outstanding player.

On Friday, she landed a jumper with just one second remaining in overtime, to kick the previously unbeatable University of CT out of the finals.

Her victor Friday came in front of former National Basketball Association great Kobe Bryant.

Two dribbles and countless stopped hearts later, the shot went up, then it went down through the net and onto highlight reels forever. Despite her struggles shooting the ball, Ogwunbowale remained aggressive and was rewarded by drawing fouls on her way to the basket.

"Columbus has been a fantastic host".

They had a lot to enjoy, especially Irish fans. Ogunbowale shot 1 of 10 for first half. And in the end, the Irish had a little luck on their side with Ogwunbowale knocking down an off balance 3-pointer with 0.1 seconds remaining.

That's the kind of combination of strategy and execution that earned Vic Schaefer a reputation as an elite defensive coach, a couple of national coach of the year trophies and a national championship in 2011 against none other than the Irish, who had upset Tennessee and CT before losing 76-70 to a Texas A&M team with Shaefer on the staff in the championship game.

Final Four hero lifts Notre Dame to title