Final Four: Notre Dame upsets UConn, Mississippi State defeats Louisville; Irish vs. Bulldogs in National Championship Game

Photo Credit: AP/Ron Schwane

For the second consecutive Final Four, Geno Auriemma’s UConn Huskies were not only denied a national championship, they were denied a berth to the national title game.

The hero for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish was Arike Ogunbowale, who made a two-point jumper on Notre Dame’s last possession which came in an overtime period. This put her team up 91-89. The Huskies had one more chance to tie it, but it would not be and it would be Notre Dame competing for a national title.

For many women’s basketball fans, it was déjà vu all over again as they vividly remember last season’s national semifinal between Mississippi State and UConn which ended, also in overtime, via Morgan William’s buzzer-beater.

 

I didn’t know if it was going in, but it felt good.

 


–Arike Ogunbowale (per New York Times)

It particularly felt good for a Fighting Irish team that seemingly knew UConn inside and out and was determined not to be intimidated by the grandeur and greatness of Auriemma’s players donning the navy blue and white jerseys.

Ogunbowale finished with 27 points and Jackie Young added 32 (along with 11 rebounds), combining for 50 of the Irish’ 91 points. On the UConn side of things, Napheesa Collier had 24 points and Azura Stevens contributed 19.

 

She came back at the end of the half, she came back at the end of the third quarter. And then the end of the game, there was no question who the ball was going to.

 

–Muffet McGraw (per ESPN)

 

It’s a great learning tool. But I’m a pretty smart guy. I don’t need to learn this (expletive) to years in a row.

 

–Geno Auriemma (per USA Today)

Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Not to be outdone by the women from South Bend, but Starkville will also be represented proudly in the national title game as the Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated the Louisville Cardinals by a final score of 73-63.

As was the case with the Huskies and Irish, it also took a grand total of five stanzas to decide this one – and this was the game prior to UConn-Notre Dame.

Asia Durr and her Louisville Cardinals were within a few seconds of ending the game in regulation as they led 59-56 with only a few seconds left.

That was before this happened.

That was Roshunda Johnson who nailed a three-pointer to tie it up and send this contest to an overtime stanza. Louisville’s Jazmine Jones attempted a game-winner on the other end of the floor, but it was not successful.

What ensued was the Bulldogs outscoring Louisville 14-4 in overtime en route to its return to the national championship game.

A key reason for the Bulldogs win – Victoria Vivians who led her team in points with 25.

The first part of the above video is the mood one has when she is dropping 21 points and 25 rebounds on an opponent as Teaira McCowan did to Louisville. The second is when one knows she just got her team back to the title game.

 

As for rebounds, Coach always says, ‘Go get them all.’

 

Teaira McCowan

 

It would be the first [national championship] we’ve ever won in any sport. I think that’s enough said.

 

–Vic Schaefer, Mississippi State head coach on significance of potential Bulldogs championship

Despite 18 from Durr and another 15 courtesy of Jones, it was not enough for the Cardinals when the final buzzer sounded.

 

Athletics is a wonderful thing. It’s a great thing, boy, but there’s some ups and downs that just kick you square in the ass, and right now this is one of those.

 

Jeff Walz, head coach, Louisville



By: Akiem Bailum (@AkiemBailum on Twitter, Instagram)

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