Ogun­bowale lifts Notre Dame in fi­nal

The Standard Journal - - NATIONAL SPORTS - By Doug Fein­berg AP Bas­ket­ball Writer

COLUM­BUS, Ohio — Arike Ogun­bowale hit the shot of her life — again.

Ogun­bowale floated in a 3-pointer from the cor­ner with 0.1 sec­onds left, lift­ing Notre Dame to its sec­ond women’s bas­ket­ball ti­tle with a thrilling 61- 58 come­back vic­tory over Mis­sis­sippi State in the NCAA cham­pi­onship game on Sun­day night.

I t was t he s econd straight game that the ju­nior guard hit a shot in the fi­nal sec­ond to carry the Ir­ish. Her jumper with one sec­ond re­main­ing in over­time knocked off pre­vi­ously un­beaten UConn in the semi­fi­nals Fri­day.

With this game tied, Ogun­bowale took the in­bounds pass from Jackie Young, drib­bled twice to­ward the cor­ner and, closely guarded, lofted home an off- bal­ance 3 from in front of the Notre Dame bench, nearly the same an­gle as her shot that beat the Huskies.

“It just felt right,” said Ogun­bowale, who scored 16 of her 18 points in the sec­ond half. “I prac­tice late- game all the time. I just ran to Jackie and said, ‘ Throw it to me, throw it to me.’”

Ogun­bowale earned most out­stand­ing player hon­ors for the tour­na­ment and also re­ceived a con­grat­u­la­tory tweet from Kobe Bryant, who took in the semi­fi­nal win over UConn.

All the Ir­ish play­ers could cel­e­brate af­ter pulling off the big­gest come­back in ti­tle game his­tory. They ral­lied from a 15-point deficit in the third quar­ter and were down five in the fi­nal 1:58.

Ma­rina Mabrey hit a 3-pointer from the wing and Young had a shot in the lane to tie it.

The ti­tle came 17 years to the day af­ter Notre Dame (35-3) won its only other cham­pi­onship in 2001 on Easter.

“It’s Easter Sun­day, and all the Catholics were pray­ing for us,” said coach Muf­fet Mc­Graw, who was wear­ing flo­ral shoes in honor of the hol­i­day.

When the fi­nal buzzer sounded, a wild cel­e­bra­tion started with the Ir­ish faith­ful who were part of the sell­out crowd. Mc­Graw’s team had fallen short four times in seven years in the ti­tle game, los­ing in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015.

Many of the Notre Dame alums 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

This ver­sion of Mc­Graw’s squad re­fused to lose, and the run was even more im­prob­a­ble be­cause the Ir­ish lost four play­ers over the sea­son to ACL in­juries.

Tied as the clock ran down, Mis­sis­sippi State star Teaira Mc­Cowan missed a layup with 27.8 sec­onds left, and both teams turned the ball over in a wild se­quence. Mc­Cowan fouled out of the game stop­ping an Ir­ish fast break af­ter con­sec­u­tive turnovers and that set up the fi­nal 3 sec­onds.

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