March 31, 2018
COLUMBUS, Ohio — For the sixth time in program history, the University of Notre Dame women’s basketball team will be competing for a national title. In yet another memorable chapter in the rivalry between No. 1-seeded Notre Dame (34-3) and No. 1-seeded Connecticut (36-1), the Irish advanced with a gutsy 91-89 victory in overtime thanks to a buzzer-beating long-range jumper from Arike Ogunbowale with one second left on the clock.
“So proud of this team,” Karen & Kevin Keyes Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “We got off to a great start. We had a little bit of trouble in the second quarter and responded well. It was kind of a dogfight, I thought. Both teams throwing punches. They made some big plays. We made some plays back. I thought it came down to rebounding in the fourth quarter and in the overtime.”
How It Happened
It was a tale of two different quarters in the first half. The Irish started hot, shooting 10-of-17 in the opening period to jump out to a 24-14 advantage. Jackie Young tallied 11 points in the first quarter on a 5-for-6 start from the floor.
However, UConn struck back in the second quarter, outscoring the Irish 27-10, to claim a 41-34 lead at the midway point.
Yet, in the third quarter, the Irish began to chip away, cutting the deficit to 60-57 heading into the final period. Young and Ogunbowale each scored seven points in the third quarter.
Later, with 6:49 left in the game, UConn’s Crystal Dangerfield delivered a big three for the Huskies, giving them an eight-point lead at 67-59. Once again, the Irish fought back, starting with an Ogunbowale three-pointer at 6:22 and then an individual 5-0 run from Young, cutting it to 69-67 with 4:54 left.
Later, down 74-73 with 1:54 on the clock, Young and Ogunbowale powered the Irish offense yet again with a 6-0 run, handing Notre Dame a 79-74 lead with 21 seconds left in the game. However, adding to the dramatics for the night, a late trey from UConn’s Napheesa Collier and a lay-up from Kia Nurse sent the game to overtime tied at 79-all. Young and Ogunbowale combined for 18 of the team’s 22 points in the quarter.
A Nurse three-pointer 33 seconds into overtime gave UConn its final lead of the game at 82-80. That’s when Notre Dame responded with a 9-2 scoring spree, claiming an 89-84 advantage. UConn would not go away, as a Crystal Dangerfield three with 27 seconds left tied the game at 89 all. Enter Arike Ogunbowale, who delivered the buzzer beating jumper to send Notre Dame into the championship game with the 91-89 victory.
Ogunbowale finished with 27 points, including 15 points combined in the fourth quarter and in overtime. Jessica Shepard also recorded a huge game for the Irish, netting her 15th double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Player of the Game
Jackie Young surged past her previous career high of 24 points with 32 tonight against UConn. Young reeled in 11 rebounds to record her fifth double-double on the year. Young shot 10-of-15 from the floor, including a 10-for-11 day from the free-throw line.
Stat of the Game
Notre Dame now boasts four wins against UConn in the NCAA Tournament, which is more than any other team in the country.
- Friday’s Final Four marked the 48th matchup between Notre Dame and UConn (36-12).
- The Irish are 4-3 all-time against UConn in the NCAA Tournament. Their four wins are the most of any team against the Huskies.
- Irish are 6-2 all-time in National Semifinal games.
- Notre Dame has advanced to its sixth NCAA Championship game. The Irish are one of four schools to make at least six appearances (UConn, Tennessee and Louisiana Tech).
- Today’s victory gives Coach McGraw win No. 799 at Notre Dame and No. 887 overall.
- UConn has lost six straight overtime games, with three of those losses coming to Notre Dame.
- Today marked the first time that both National Semifinal games have gone to overtime.
- Jackie Young recorded a career-high 32 points on 10-of-15 shooting. The 10-made field goals tied her career best. Young also went 10-for-11 from the free-throw line, which also marked a career best.
- Young netted her fifth double-double with 11 rebounds to go with her 32 points.
- Jessica Shepard notched her 15th double double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
- Ogunbowale added 27 points tonight on 9-of-21 shooting. It marked her 25th game of 20-plus points this season.
- Ogunbowale is averaging 25.4 points per game during this NCAA Tournament.
- Notre Dame picked up its 12th ranked victory on the year, which ties UConn for the most.
The Irish advance to Sunday’s NCAA championship game where they’ll take on No. 1-seeded Mississippi State. Tip off is slated for 6 p.m. ET on ESPN, with a post-game special airing immediately afterwards on ESPN 2.