Milwaukee's Arike Ogunbowale helps Fighting Irish win NCAA tourney; 'determined, incredibly disciplined'

Milwaukee's Arike Ogunbowale helps Fighting Irish win NCAA tourney; 'determined, incredibly disciplined'

"And yes, they knew before Arike Ogunbowale, the 5'8" junior guard, pulled up from just inside the three-point line with two seconds left in overtime-after missing two free throws that would have given Notre Dame a near-insurmountable five-point lead, allowing the Huskies to hit a game-tying three-pointer with 29 seconds left.

The word McGraw used to describe her team so many times this season was "resilient", because the Fighting Irish played the majority of the campaign without four players - including a point guard and an all-American - all of whom had torn their anterior cruciate ligaments.

"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. "We needed all of it". Last night she fulfilled every hoopster's dream by hitting another game winning three pointer - this time with.1 second left. The Bulldogs had nine assists and 15 turnovers, while the Fighting Irish had eight assists and 17 turnovers. By the end of the first quarter, Mississippi State had moved ahead by 17-14. "I didn't do that. I'll wear that maybe for the rest of my career".

Still, the Bulldogs kept battling, taking a 51-47 lead on a McCowan jumper with 6:50 left and a 58-53 lead on a 3-pointer by Johnson with 1:58 left. Still, she managed to throw up a fadeaway 3-pointer. Marina Mabrey contributed 10 points along with seven rebounds.

"This is the toughest, most resilient team I have ever seen", MSU head coach Vic Schaefer said.

Both teams advanced to Sunday's title game with thrilling overtime victories in the Final Four.

"I know I just had to shoot it at the last minute", Ogunbowale said.

Teaira McCowan (18 points, 17 rebounds) left a layup on the left block short coming out of a timeout to set up a wild sequence.

The game was in Mississippi State's hands with under 30 seconds to go.

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The 17-year space between Irish titles almost doubles Tennessee's record 9-year gap between 1998 and 2007.

"Nigeria did it again at the NCAA Women Basketball National Championship".

The game featured the last two teams to knock off the CT dynasty. The Fighting Irish had not won a title since 2001.

It was Ogunbowale who also made the game-winner in overtime against CT in the Final Four on Friday and was named the Most Outstanding Player.

Jessica Shepard had 19 points for Notre Dame, and Ogunbowale had 18. She just missed it.

The Irish stepped up their play after a awful first half.

"We did so many things wrong in the first half", McGraw said.

"Usually our rule is - it's not usually, it's the rule, when you switch, you switch to deny, and we just didn't get the denial", Schaefer said. But Notre Dame stormed back, outscoring MSU 24-11 for the frame.

There will be many Mississippi State fans who are feeling upset because there could have been a foul called after Morgan William got mugged with five seconds remaining before Ogunbowale made history.