Baylor holds off Notre Dame for NCAA women's title

Baylor holds off Notre Dame for NCAA women's title

Baylor holds off Notre Dame for NCAA women's title

"I would have liked to have won the game, "she said".

The teams went back on fourth until Chloe Jackson's layup put Baylor up by two with six seconds to play. That team is so good, so talented.

I could go on and on about this game and the emotions surrounding it.

After a thrilling game in which Baylor seemed to have things in control, seemed to be falling apart after a third-quarter injury to junior Lauren Cox, and then got things back together to win it all, 82-81, Mulkey reflected on the journey to get here. Arike's free throw with 3:18 left gave their Irish their first lead since the first two minutes of the game.

Notre Dame would find their shooting touch, sparking a 9-0 run over Baylor, but the Lady Bears would put an end to it with more inside passing.

Freshman NaLyssa Smith was pressed into service by the Cox injury. she proceeded to go flawless from the floor in her appearance, notching 14 points for herself until she missed a shot and fouled out shortly. "And for LC (Cox), she got us here, and we had to finish the job for her". And the way they won in 2018 was breathtaking, with buzzer-beaters by Ogunbowale in the semifinal and championship games against CT and Mississippi State, respectively.

Mulkey and Baylor have won titles in 2005, 2012 and 2019.

It took Baylor seven years after their last national championship to get back to the Women's Final Four.

Last year's title run by Notre Dame was a shock. "I won't let this define the whole four years". She made a shot with one second remaining to beat UConn in the semifinals, then hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with one-tenth of a second left to top the Bulldogs in the title game. She made her presence felt on the offensive and defensive ends, and helped Baylor beat Notre Dame 82-81 for the national championship.

"It just wasn't meant to be". "But things happen. I had a fun, great career here at Notre Dame".

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Smith scored eight of her 14 points in the last 11 minutes, following Cox's injury, before fouling out with 47 seconds left. The 6-foot-4 forward fell to the floor clutching her knee under the Notre Dame basket after getting tangled up with teammate Kalani Brown. Her mom was tearing up in the stands, and her dad had his hands over his face.

KIM MULKEY: Lauren Cox. "Every single play she's going to give all she has". I would have liked for us to make one more layup.

Using braces, she was able to return to the bench late in the fourth quarter.

An 80% foul shooter, Ogunbowale rimmed out her first attempt.

"I'm one of the leaders of this team, so (I came back) just to have my voice there, to tell them that I'm still OK", Cox said to ESPN. The title is Baylor's third. "Just to be able to get up there and cut down my piece, it was incredible". That's her five-month-old grandson, Kannon. The whole time, she was coaching on the sideline. As of 2018, only 59.5 percent of head coaches in Division I women's basketball are female.

BREAKING A TIE: Mulkey and McGraw have two championships each. Only UConn's Geno Auriemma (11) and former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt (eight) have won more.

TIP-INS: The Irish remained at 999 victories in school history. So she looked to her coach, Muffet McGraw.

"It's sad, especially being my last game". Finally, thank you for continuing to make our game absolutely awesome, with a sell-out crowd 20,127 strong attending in person and TV viewership up 11 percent from a year ago. It was the highest attendance in over 15 years.

"We've had a really great championship".

The stage is set for the NCAA women's basketball finals - and it's Under Armour vs. Portland, Oregon, a first-time site, averaged over 11,400 fans and will host again next year.

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