Leading the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team to a championship last weekend in Columbus, Ohio, Arike Ogunbowale secured her place in NCAA tournament history.
Ogunbowale hit game-winning jump shots in both the Final Four game versus UConn and the championship game against Mississippi State. She is also former Badger running back Dare Ogunbowale’s sister
Until the Final Four, the women’s tournament lacked the upsets we saw on the men’s side this year. All four No. 1 seeds— Notre Dame, Mississippi State, UConn and Louisville—advanced out of their regions with No. 6 Oregon State being the only non-top three seed to even reach the Elite Eight.
But the excitement began when Notre Dame upset basketball’s greatest dynasty — the University of Connecticut — to hand them their first loss of the season in the Final Four.
After going back and forth for most of the game, it appeared Notre Dame had secured a win in the last few seconds. It was the forced overtime from Notre Dame’s Jessica Shepard’s two costly turnovers at the end of regulation, and a near-loss after UConn’s Gabby Williams missed a last-second jumper, that would have given the Huskies the win.
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Fortunately, the Irish were able to maintain their intensity in the extra period. Ogunbowale had an opportunity to lock the game up for Notre Dame but missed a free throw in the final minute that allowed UConn to tie the game at 89–89 with a three-pointer from Crystal Dangerfield.
In the next play, Ogunbowale redeemed herself and avoided a trip to double overtime — nailing a deep two-pointer on an isolation play to win the game for Notre Dame 91–89.
On the other side of the bracket, Mississippi State, who upset UConn last year in the Final Four, beat Louisville 73–63 to give the Bulldogs a chance at avenging last year’s championship loss against South Carolina.
In the championship game, Mississippi State led early up 30–17 at halftime. But Notre Dame would come back and had an opportunity to win the game tied 58–58 at the end of regulation.
But after a steal from Mississippi State’s Morgan William in the final 10 seconds, the Bulldogs had a chance to win the game on a fast break score. As players scrambled for position, William would miss an open Victoria Vivens and turn the ball over herself.
This forced Mississippi State to foul at half-court to avoid giving Notre Dame an easy last-second layup as the Irish still had several players around the rim from their last turnover.
Ogunbowale got the pass on the inbound from the foul and the rest is history. The guard hit a heavily contested three over Vivens to end a miraculous tournament run for Notre Dame and give the program their second-ever national championship.