Arike Ogunbowale knocked down her second game-winning jumper of the Final Four on Sunday night by nailing a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give the Fighting Irish the national championship with a 61-58 win over Mississippi State.
Ogunbowale also hit the game-winning jumper in an overtime thriller against No. 1 overall seed UConn on Friday night as she knocked down a heavily-contested three-pointer out of a timeout with 3.0 seconds left to earn the title.
The Fighting Irish (35-3) won their first national championship in 17 years, and second title in program history, with another thrilling comeback. Notre Dame trailed by 15 points midway through the third before furiously rallying to end the quarter and making it a competitive game. From there, it was back-and-forth during a tense fourth quarter.
Ogunbowale finished with 18 points while Jessica Shepard added 19 points for Notre Dame. Sunday’s win also marked win No. 800 at Notre Dame for Basketball Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw.
Mississippi State (37-2) lost in the national title game for the second straight year after falling to SEC rival South Carolina last season. The Bulldogs’ only other loss of the season came against defending champion South Carolina in the SEC tournament title game before Sunday night’s last-second defeat.
Junior center Teira McCowan was a force inside for Mississippi State as she finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds before fouling out with three seconds left. Senior guard Victoria Vivians was also a major factor for the Bulldogs as she had 21 points, nine rebounds and four steals.
Sunday’s title game ended a thrilling women’s Final Four that included two overtime games in the national semifinals and a game-winning three-pointer to decide the national championship. It’s already being hailed as the greatest women’s basketball Final Four ever played as this will be a weekend that they talk about in the sport for years to come.