Arike Ogunbowale gets last laugh with Geno Auriemma

After hitting a game-winning shot on Friday to beat CT in the tournament's national semi-finals, her winning shot on Sunday night was described as "the greatest last-second shot in championship game history". And, the UConn vs. Notre Dame semifinal may be the best basketball game I've seen in a decade.

Notre Dame's second-team All-American Arike Ogunbowale swished a 3-pointer with a hand in her face as time almost expired, giving the Irish their second NCAA title with a 61-58 win against Mississippi State.

One more worry: The Irish, going with only six players because of injuries, still hadn't hit a 3-pointer. MSU gained momentum quickly and ended the quarter three points ahead of the Irish.

On Friday night she hit a step back three pointer with one second left in overtime sending Notre Dame to the championship game.

Yes, the referees easily could have - and probably should have - tagged Notre Dame's Marina Mabrey with a foul for her cross-body block on Morgan William as the Bulldogs' senior took off in transition on the previous possession.

"We'll discuss it with the team and make a decision if the offer is extended", McGraw told The Associated Press by phone Monday.

The coach did at least partially attribute the shot to some divine intervention. "Let's do our job and let everybody else do their own job.' Once we were able to just get some space and be able see the floor a little bit better, their pressure really wasn't as bad as they were making it seem". And how many of those shots actually went in? This year had been about redemption and validation for Mississippi State, which has grown a women's basketball fandom in Starkville that has far exceeded expectations.

"Arike Ogunbowale did it again by scoring the winning basketball at the buzzer during the NCAA Women Championship game against Mississippi".

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 their anterior cruciate ligaments. The junior guard took the inbounds pass to the corner with 3 seconds left and swished it over the out-stretched arms of Victoria Vivians crushing MSU's dreams with a 61-58 triumph.

"We're all just on the bench, watching in slow motion", she said. "I don't know if the coaches are, but certainly the fans are".

It was the second year in a row that Mississippi State (37-2) fell short in the title game.

"'What though the odds, ' that's part of our fight song", McGraw said.

Trailing by 15 points midway through the third quarter, Notre Dame turned momentum as it had so many times before this season. Relentless, competitive, they have a swagger. "I had enough confidence to hit it and the whole team just stepped up".

After the Mississippi State women's basketball team waited almost a year to make one more play and win one more game, Ogunbowale delivered one more play to end that dream. That was a great championship game, but the semifinals that year - Maryland beat North Carolina by 11, and Duke topped LSU by 19 - weren't compelling. In the final moments, Young found Ogunbowale on the inbound and she finished with a three-pointer for the win.

"It's wonderful that it's been a 17 year drought and I'm just glad we could bring it back for all of the alums between us, this is for them", said Ogunbowale". "Especially living in my league". It's simple - mamba mentality.

In all seriousness, the women's Final Four put the men's game to shame. I wanted to go into business and they have the No. 1 business school. "I'll wear that maybe for the rest of my career". Sure. Mississippi State was never meant to shine. Kobe Bryant, who has always been Ogunbowale's favorite player, tweeted a congratulatory message to her Friday, started following her Saturday, and tweeted at her twice Sunday. "Pat her on the butt, man".

The game was everything that could be imagined for a national championship, although it was sloppy at times.

  • Stacy Allen