Notre Dame advanced to its sixth title game and fifth in the last eight years.
But it's not just her game-changing buzzer beater that's captured the nation, it's that she had two in a row. Westbeld, the Kettering, Ohio native, won her high school state championship in the same building four years prior. It's been even longer since a title game came down to a last-second shot.
Arike Ogunbowale did it again. That Sister Jean received more extensive coverage during one tournament than Ogunbowale will likely receive over her entire basketball career is not a slight on the luckiest nun alive, but rather a way for us to take stock of how we tell stories and where we choose to direct our attention.
In a shocking upset, Notre Dame beat the undefeated University of CT, which advanced the Irish to the finals. The Final Four got started with two stirring overtime games - the first time that had happened.
"I know I just had to shoot it at the last minute", Ogunbowale said. On the biggest stage - the NCAA Women's Final Four - she hit the game victor for the national championship!
Notre Dame broke that mark thanks to the heroics of Ogunbowale, who hit the buzzer-beater Friday night to lift Notre Dame to a 91-89 victory against CT in the national semifinals. "It came from two Navy SEALs who worked with the kids in the fall - Sam and Brian". She just missed it. The games have been incredible.
Has there ever been a more exciting and well-played women's Final Four? But it's still harder to be a fan of women's sports because they don't have anywhere close to the same media infrastructure as men's sports.
"I work for this in practice", Ogunbowale said. They rallied from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter and were down five in the final 1:58. New Jersey native Marina Mabrey added 10 points.
The win gave Notre Dame, their first women's basketball title since 2001. "Thank you Jesus on Easter Sunday". William appeared to force a turnover, but the Bulldogs gave the ball right back to the Fighting Irish as they tried to push it up court. They were runners up in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. The Huskies trailed 24-11 late in the first quarter before Katie Lou Samuelson hit a 3-pointer just before the end of the period. "We talked about it pre-game". McCowan fouled Jackie Young, and Notre Dame called a timeout to set up the winning play, which was hardly a play at all.
The shot - or perhaps the shot, Part II - swished through the net with 0.1 seconds left.
Her father, coach Vic Schaefer, took every bit of the blame. Following a timeout, Mississippi State (37-2) finally settled down and went one of several runs in the game. He felt his players were exhausted after practicing the day after the monumental upset of UConn that ended the Huskies' record 111-game winning streak.
After trailing 30-17 at halftime, the Irish finished the quarter with a 17-1 run and knotted the game at 41. They now have won four of the five meetings in the Final Four, including twice in overtime. Only moving to point guard from shooting guard after graduate student Lili Thompson's injury, Mabrey is not a prototypical point guard, and struggled with the pressure early on to the tune of seven first-half turnovers.
Arike Ogunbowale's game-winner for Notre Dame is the moment that will live on in highlight reels from tonight's national title game.
At the same time, the 6-foot-7 McCowan and Victoria Vivians were powering the Bulldogs. McCowan had 18 points and 17 rebounds ending her NCAA Tournament with a national record 109 boards in the six games played. But the Fighting Irish mounted a furious second-half comeback to tie the game in the fourth quarter.
Notre Dame inbounded the basketball just in front of its bench with three seconds remaining.