April 1, 2018
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- For the second time in program history, the University of Notre Dame women's basketball team is your NCAA National Champions. The No. 1-seeded Irish (35-3) completed the second-largest comeback in Final Four history to defeat the No. 1-seeded Bulldogs (37-2) 61-58. Arike Ogunbowale hit a three with 0.1 remaining to clinch the title for the Irish. It was 17 years ago to the date that Notre Dame won its first NCAA Championship.
Jessica Shepard and Ogunbowale led the Irish all the way back after trailing by 15 halfway through the third quarter. The Irish finished the third quarter on a 16-1 run to tie the game at 41.
In the fourth quarter, the Irish erased a five-point deficit with under two minutes remaining. A Marina Mabrey three and Jackie Young jumper tied the game at 58 with 45 seconds left.
After a defensive stand and forced turnover, the Irish had the ball with 3.0 seconds left. Ogunbowale received the ball and took a dribble towards the corner before hoisting the game-winning shot.
How It Happened
The opening quarter saw runs from both teams and the Irish started it off by scoring the first six points. Notre Dame was active defensively, garnering four early steals, while all five starters got on the scoreboard to jump out to a 10-4 advantage at the first media timeout at the 4:15 mark. However, Mississippi State ended the quarter on a 13-4 scoring spree to take a 17-14 lead.
Notre Dame's offense struggled to find its rhythm in the second quarter, receiving its lone points from a Shepard old-fashioned three-point play. Yet, the defense kept the Irish within reach, limiting MSU to 13 points to trail just 30-17 at the half.
Mississippi State's Victoria Vivians would hit a three-pointer at the 6:41 mark as the Irish then faced its largest deficit of the game, down 40-25. Yet, once again, Notre Dame fought back in this Final Four, ending the quarter on an impressive 16-1 run, keeping the Bulldogs off the scoreboard for the final 4:27.
In the final quarter, neither team could separate themselves by more than four points for almost the entire period. Roshunda Johnson hit a three with 1:58 remaining to give Mississippi State a 58-53 lead. Mabrey responded for the Irish with a three on the ensuing possession. After an Irish stop, Young hit a jumper to tie the game at 58 with under a minute to go.
The Irish got another defensive stand following the game-tying bucket and were poised for the final shot. After both teams exchanged turnovers, the Irish had an in-bound opportunity in front of their bench with seconds remaining. Young passed it in to Ogunbowale running to her right and Ogunbowale put up the shot to win the championship for the Irish.
Player of the Game
Junior Arike Ogunbowale hit the game-winning shot for the second straight game to clinch Notre Dame's second national championship. She finished the game with 18 points and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player following the game.
Follow along with all the postgame action on twitter at twitter.com/ndwbb.
Ogunbowale has been the No.1 play on SportsCenter Top-10 twice during the Final Four weekend.
- Notre Dame has won its second NCAA Championship in program history.
- Today marked the second time the NCAA title game has been played on Easter Sunday. Ironically, the only other time was April 1, 2001, Notre Dame’s first NCAA Championship.
- Tonight’s matchup marked the 37th NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship contest.
- Notre Dame becomes the seventh women’s basketball program to win multiple NCAA Championships.
- Tonight’s game marked Notre Dame’s sixth NCAA Title game appearance, which ties Louisiana Tech for the third most. The Irish are 2-4 all-time in the NCAA Final.
- Sunday’s contest marked the first meeting between Notre Dame and Mississippi State.
- Today’s victory gives Coach McGraw win No. 800 at Notre Dame and No. 888 overall.
- To earn the 2018 NCAA National Title, Coach McGraw defeated the three other Naismith Coach of the Year Finalists in Coach Graves of Oregon, Coach Auriemma of UConn and now Coach Schaefer of Mississippi State.
- Irish are 7-1 when trailing at the half this season. Notre Dame trailed at the midway point in the final four games of the NCAA Tournament. The Irish were down 13 points (30-17) to Mississippi State.
- The 15-point comeback was the most in an NCAA title game and tied for the second most in the Final Four.
The Irish will return to South Bend on Monday around 12:30 p.m. ET. Irish fans can come celebrate the 2018 National Championship by gathering along Notre Dame Avenue in front of Main Building for the welcome home celebration.