Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale hit a jumper with 1 second left in overtime for a 91-89 win over UConn on Friday in the NCAA Women's Tournament semifinals. Ogunbowale's shot bailed out a Notre Dame team that held five-point leads in the final minute of both regulation and overtime, only to see UConn storm back to tie the game.
Jackie Young led Notre Dame with a career-high 32 points and 11 rebounds.
The Fighting Irish (34-3) advanced to the title game against fellow No. 1 seed Mississippi State, whose game provided the first thriller of the evening when the Bulldogs beat No. 1 seed Louisville, 73-63. This latest victory came 17 years to the day of beating the Huskies the first time in the national semifinals (March 30, 2001) - and two days later the Irish on April 1 defeated Purdue 68-66 for their lone national title. Both shots proved UConn is killable after all, no matter how unstoppable they look early in the tournament. "There are no bad teams".
The undefeated University of Connecticut's women's basketball team enters Friday as the overwhelming favorite to win their 12th national title. And I don't think anybody ever believed me because it just seemed so routine for a while. They made one more great play than we did.
Notre Dame senior Kathyrn Westbeld has been the constant for the Irish. Notre Dame up by five, with UConn closing the lead.
"I tried to get a good shot", she said.
Notre Dame took the lead in overtime, but again, sophomore Crystal Dangerfield hit a deep three to tie the game.
It wasn't long ago Geno Auriemma and Muffet McGraw were constantly on each other's minds.
"There's nothing you can say to a college kid after experiencing this two years in a row that's going to make them feel any better about, you know", Auriemma said.
The Huskies responded, scoring the first six points of the second quarter to cut deficit to four, 24-20.
"I know I just had to shoot it at the last minute", Ogunbowale said.
That onsite presence includes NEP's EN1 A and B units for game production of the Final Four and National Championship and D unit for studio programming. Last weekend's highly anticipated Elite Eight matchup with defending national champion SC was a competitive bust: UConn won by 29 points. "These last two years is a big reminder that this is really hard to do".
Notre Dame didn't let it happen, showing it belong right away, and fighting off the Huskies, who made a miraculous comeback just to reach overtime, erasing a five-point deficit with 21.3 seconds remaining in regulation.
McCowan broke the rebounding mark set by Charlotte Smith of North Carolina in 1994 when Mississippi State's 6-foot-7 center grabbed her 24th board.
First the Irish were up, leading by 10 after the first quarter.
Huskies forward Gabby Williams launched a Hail Mary pass to junior Katie Lou Samuelson at the end of the game, but Samuelson's attempt was off target. As a team, UConn led the nation in offensive and defensive efficiency. "We love seeing great players making great plays".