Women's Final Four: Notre Dame ends UConn's flawless season in overtime thriller

by Leon Thompson April 1, 2018, 2:50
Women's Final Four: Notre Dame ends UConn's flawless season in overtime thriller

In overtime, the Bulldogs asserted themselves and Morgan William, who hit the winning shot in OT a year ago in the Final Four to end UConn's 111-game winning streak (the Bulldogs lost in the title game to South Carolina), made two free throws in the last minute to help Mississippi State (37-1) pull away in a battle of No. 1 seeds.

In the title game of the 2013 season, with both teams unbeaten, the Huskies beat the Irish.

After Connecticut tied with game with 13 seconds remaining, Irish guard Arike Ogunbowale scored with one second left giving Notre Dame the win, and handing the Huskies their first loss this year.

The Irish are led by junior Arike Ogunbowale, a first-team All America who average 20.7 points per game in the regular season.

UConn (36-0) takes on Notre Dame in second of Friday's two semifinal games in Nationwide Arena.

What's next: Notre Dame twice beat UConn in the semifinals in 2011 and 2012, but each time failed to win the title, losing to Texas A&M and Baylor in the NCAA championship game. Both years, they were going for the program's seventh flawless season, but came up short. There are no bad teams, no bad players.

For pretty much every other women's basketball program, UConn's season would be considered a smashing success.

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As volleyball rises in popularity, siphoning some of the overall basketball talent pool, McCallie said, high-profile brands like UConn and Auriemma might see their recruiting advantages increase as other universities compete for a shrinking number of top players. You can't luck into a national championship.

A roller coaster of emotions doesn't even begin to explain Friday's contest between Notre Dame and CT. Jackie Young made two free throws to give Notre Dame a one-point lead, then Gabby Williams' errant pass set up another Notre Dame possession.

The truth? Yes, he usually does get the best players but not all of them. Again, the Huskies have been left to contemplate going home empty-handed, this time despite having won 147 of their last 149 games.

"I think I'm kind of torn between crying and laughing", McGraw said.

Louisville is trying to make it to the title game for the third time. "It's hard. It's very, very hard", UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.

CT built a nine-point lead early in the third quarter before Notre Dame started hitting its shots more consistently. No team has come closer than a dozen points against the Huskies since Louisville made it an 11-point loss on February 12. Notre Dame is seeking its second national title. Notre Dame raced out to a first quarter lead, UConn came back to lead at the half, and the two teams exchanged hay-makers during the second half.

Junior center Teaira McCowan has had a record-setting 76 rebounds for a single tournament and set a Final Four rebound record with 25. Last year, I felt like the way we played, we probably deserved to lose that game. Muffet McGraw always has her team ready and they aren't scared of the UConn mystique. None were bigger than her final two Friday.

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