OT survivors: Bulldogs, Irish meet for women's title


It's been a long wait for Mississippi State University's first team National Championship but come Sunday night, that wait very well may come to an end. "I mean, back and forth runs by both teams".

Mississippi State is now Notre Dame's "Finland".

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish erased a 15-point third quarter deficit to defeat Mississippi State 61-58 in the 2018 women's basketball national title game. I think you just admire that. The fewest is 12 by CT against Stanford in the 2010 championship game.

Despite the late heroics from Mabrey and Ogunbowale, they were 9-of-30 from the field with 11 turnovers. "This is the toughest, most resilient team I've ever seen", Vic Schaefer said.

A season after losing to SC 67-55 in the title game, Morgan William and the Bulldogs try again to win that elusive first crown. If the Bulldogs win, it will be the first NCAA National Championship in MSU's history.

In overtime, the Bulldogs asserted themselves and Morgan William, who hit the game-winning shot in OT a year ago in the Final Four to end Connecticut's 111-game winning streak, made two free throws in the last minute to help Mississippi State (37-1) pull away.

The word McGraw used to describe her team so many times this season was "resilient", because the Fighting Irish played the majority of the campaign without four players - including a point guard and an all-American - all of whom had torn anterior cruciate ligaments. Unfortunately for Mississippi State, that also proved to be their final basket of the game.

The two clutch shot makers exchanged tweets after Notre Dame's Final Four win.

Notre Dame has faced some tall players this season - Virginia's 6-9 sophomore Felicia Aiyeotan, 6-6 Mercedes Russell of Tennessee and 6-5 A'ja Wilson of SC, to name three - but none as stout inside as McCowan. They lost in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015.

Schaefer learned a lot from last year's loss in the title game.

The Mississippi State-Notre Dame game will start at 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 1.

In overtime, the Huskies had one more comeback wild card left up their sleeves.

Ogunbowale finished with 18 points. ". Definitely one of the best Final Fours since, well, 2001, right?"

"It's a shame it has to come down to that", Louisville Coach Jeff Walz said.

Following a timeout by Geno Auriemma, Napheesa Collier buried a 3-pointer from the right short corner off of a kick-out from Crystal Dangerfield. "And you had two outstanding games played by four outstanding teams".

4 Four Notre Dame starters played 43 (or more) minutes of a possible 45 versus CT - with junior Marina Mabrey having played every minute of each of the last three contests.

Seniors Kristina Nelson and Kathryn Westbeld now leave Notre Dame as three-time ACC regular season and tournament champions and most importantly, national champions. Jessica Shepard led the Irish with 19 points. New Jersey native Marina Mabrey added 10 points. The Irish trailed Texas A&M (37-24), OR (46-37) and UConn (41-30) before gathering their bearings together to win by six, 10 and two points, respectively.

Just when the stat sheet said Arike Ogunbowale missed nine of her 10 first-half shots and the Irish heading into the waning moments had not hit a three-pointer all night. The Bulldogs took a 58-53 lead at the 2:01 mark on a Roshunda Johnson trifecta. The Irish lost the previous four.