It had been 22 minutes since her high-arcing, buzzer-beating 3-pointer splashed through the net to give Notre Dame its first national championship in 17 years, but Arike Ogunbowale still looked like she was in disbelief.
So who is really Ogunbowale and how is she connected to Nigeria?
It happened. Oh, yes. She has won her two title games at Notre Dame by a combined five points, and this one required that her team pull off the largest comeback - they trailed by 15 midway through the third quarter - in all 33 NCAA tournament title games that have been played. No less a hoops eminence than Kobe Bryant noticed, first, on Friday night, when her game-winner with 1 second left in overtime knocked U-Conn. out of the tournament. "I mean, I practice all the time in the gym, shooting fadeaway jump shots like that, fadeaway 3s". "She's worked so hard that she knows when push comes to shove she can do it". It's the difference between McGraw and Ogunbowale sprinting from post-game station to station and Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer cradling an arm around Blair Schaefer and Morgan William in the hallway and holding back tears afterward. Forward Jessica Shepard, tasked with matching up against 6-7 Bulldogs center Teaira McCowan, added a team-high 19 points and six rebounds. Born to a Gregory, a Nigerian who emigrated to the United States as a young man and Yolanda, an African-American; Arike and her brother Dare were childhood sports proteges. The good news for the Irish is that there defense remained stout as Miss State managed just 13 points the entire period.
The school's president Ellen Bartel told TODAY'S TMJ4 she always comes through in the clutch.
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She did it Friday after starting 2-of-8, and she did it Sunday. The Fighting Irish scored just three points in the second quarter, which set an NCAA championship record low for a single quarter. She finished with 18.
Notre Dame inbounded the basketball just in front of its bench with three seconds remaining.
"If the WNBA wasn't already looking at her they have to be looking at her now". Marina Mabrey hit a 3-pointer from the wing and Young had a shot in the lane to tie it.
"I am just so speechless at this point, to see this team come back from her another huge deficit, to see Arike make an incredible shot, to see the resilience of a team that never gave up", said head coach Muffet McGraw.
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The big, fat flakes piled up quickly and, despite the temperature hitting 60 degrees the day before, stuck to everything. From Pennsylvania to coastal southern New England, snow accumulation could reach between two to six inches.
But McGraw does believe in Ogunbowale. Ogunbowale, who was named the Most Outstanding Player, now goes down in Notre Dame lore with Riley.
She did just that and showed that, besides athletics, that she has a flair for the dramatic. But Mabrey answered with her lone triple of the game on the subsequent possession.
Tied with Mississippi State, they struggled to get the ball inbound, but then it reached the hands of junior guard Arike Ogunbowale. She rose up, falling away from the basket like she's done in the gym so many times before. That wasn't going to stop her. "They thought we were going to get worn down and not be able to make it this far, but here we are-like it or not".
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After a walk and a sacrifice bunt, shortstop Amed Rosario drove in two more runs with a single to make it 6-3. Three of his walks and the hit batsman scored after Martinez offered them free transportation.
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