01 April, 2018
Arike Ogunbowale said she challenged her inner Kobe Bryant when she hit the game-winner to knock off UConn in overtime of the semi-finals of the NCAA women's tournament on Friday night. But they kept clawing back - and throughout the game, it seemed like they were only one basket from pulling away until Notre Dame went up by five with less than a minute remaining in overtime and they ran out of miracle shots.
Collier led five Huskies in double figures with 24 points, but it wasn't enough as Notre Dame managed to make the game's biggest play after squandering another five-point lead late in overtime.
Arike Ogunbowale, a junior guard, and Kathryn Westbeld, senior forward, also played extremely well.
UConn is still the "king and queen and leader of the pack", McCallie said. Young led Notre Dame with 13 points at halftime and had the support of 10 points from Shepard, but the Huskies got hot and carried that momentum into the second half.
With just one second on the shot clock, Ogunbowale took an inbound pass and made a jumper over Kia Nurse for a 77-74 Notre Dame lead.
Ogunbowale missed a pair of free throws with 38 seconds left that gave UConn a chance to tie it, then hit the shot that finished it off. A three-pointer from Napheesa Collier with 15 seconds left put CT (36-1) back within reach, and Kia Nurse tied the game by stealing the Irish's inbound pass and driving for a layup. After a Notre Dame turnover, UConn had three seconds to work with, and Gabby Williams' couldn't get a turnaround shot to go at the buzzer. Add in Azura Stevens to the mix and they have a great piece off the bench. Senior Victoria Vivians is playing the best basketball of her career averaging 19.6 points per game and shooting almost 50 percent from the field. Ogunbowle had 27 points.
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Pogba smashed in a superb free-kick shortly after half-time, while setting up Kylian Mbappe to open the scoring before the break. Mbappe, however, made sure of France's victory when he slalomed through the defence and beat Lunyov again with another low shot.
Danberry had 10 points, four rebounds and played strong defense.
While the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have been softly beating teams the Uconn Huskies know this dance all too well and have been destroying their opponents.
Notre Dame takes on Mississippi State in the national championship on Sunday.
Last year, Mississippi State ended UConn's 111-game game winning streak in the semifinals - also on a last-second shot - before losing to SC in the title game.
After the game, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma spoke to reporters to discuss what it felt like for the team to come up short after such an impressive regular season run. Both shots proved UConn is killable after all, no matter how unstoppable they look early in the tournament.
It was the first time both women's semifinal games went to overtime.
"That definitely wasn't the play call.my team trusted me to have the ball at the end of the game", Ogunbowale said in her postgame news conference. Their backup players - most of whom could be stars on other teams - have so much fun watching their teammates succeed it's hard to not be excited as well.