Notre Dame Women’s Basketball: Irish Lose Heartbreaker to Baylor in National Championship

Notre Dame Women’s Basketball: Irish Lose Heartbreaker to Baylor in National Championship

Notre Dame began to rally in the fourth behind Ogunbowale, Marina Mabrey (21 points), and Jessica Shepard (11 points).

She said she doesn't know much about her injury but that she'll "get it fixed, whatever it is".

Jackson's driving layup with six seconds to go put the Bears up two.

Arike Ogunbowale, the star in last year's title game, was fouled with the Irish trailing by two with 1.9 seconds remaining. We just had to come together. That team is so good, so talented. "I'm going to miss playing here".

Lauren Cox hobbled around the bench, moving as quickly as her injured left knee would allow. The Bears outscored the Fighting Irish 18-4 in the paint and 10-0 in transition to hold an 11-point lead after the first quarter. She really single-handedly kept us in the game the first half.

It's hard to say, but here's what we do know: Women's basketball fans should expect to see a lot more of that, starting next year.

"That kid, if she didn't get hurt, would have been the No. 1 probably pick in the (WNBA) draft next year", Mulkey said.

"We had to do it for LC", Chloe Jackson, referring to Cox, told reporters after the game. Mulkey was the pigtailed point guard on that team that won the national championship in the first year of the NCAA era.

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And such things do matter to Mulkey, whose program joins UConn (11) and Tennessee (eight) as women's teams to win at least three championships in the NCAA era.

The Fighting Irish, who face Baylor on Sunday night for the NCAA title, came into the season as the favorites to repeat as champions, with almost everyone back from last season's team. As she walked purposefully across the floor, her audible "You've got to be f*****g kidding me" in an otherwise silent Amelie Arena reflected terrible memories of losing her point guard, Kristy Wallace, in similar fashion last season. But we had the same thing past year. Brown scored 20 points and added 13 rebounds and two blocks, and freshman NaLyssa Smith scored 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting while filling in for Cox. And specifically what the Lady Bears had to do Sunday to beat Notre Dame, the defending national champs.

"It just wasn't meant to be".

"It's a blessing, it's a feeling you can't put into words, " said Jackson, the transfer from LSU who had to make the conversion to primary point guard. But there were some truly great things to take away from the women's Final Four weekend as a whole, and I'm choosing to focus on those. Cox, who hobbled to the sidelines on crutches to celebrate with her teammates after the final buzzer, told ESPN that she's unsure about the severity of her injury. "We controlled that game from the start till the time she went off the floor. That right there gave me motivation", Ursin said.

As Cox was being helped off the court and Smith was jogging onto it, Baylor assistant coach Sytia Messer couldn't help but think back to some of Smith's stellar performances this season.

"It was tough when she went down. It will be a little bit tougher now, but we've got to battle, and we did". "For us to win was a miracle in itself when you lose a player of that caliber".

It was just the second one-point game in the national final since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1994. But the Irish have a knack for big comebacks, doing it against UConn in this year's semifinal and against Mississippi State in last year's title game, when they rallied from 15 down in the third quarter. But unlike her clutch shot to win the championship past year, there were no heroics this time. Daughter Makenzie is on the coaching staff, and infant grandson Kannon Reid was sitting in the front row behind the bench. "To do it my freshman year is just fantastic". Overall, almost 275,000 fans attended the entire tournament, which ranks eighth all-time, including 20,127 for the title game.

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