Baylor holds off Notre Dame for NCAA women's title

Notre Dame guard Arike Ogunbowale had 23 points and six assists in Friday’s victory against Connecticut

That led Nalyssa Smith to play the part of Brown inside, and she proved ready as well, looking anything but freshman like as she challenged Notre Dame bigs Jessica Shepard and Brianna Turner, scoring a pair of hoops at the rim and actually increasing Baylor's lead to 17-7 by the time Brown returned.

"It's tough", Ogunbowale said. We are lucky to have you, we are fortunate to have witnessed all these great seniors and we thank you for continuing to make our game absolutely incredible. That intense internal competition is why Baylor was able to eke out back-to-back close wins in the Final Four, despite rarely being tested by other teams during the season.

In tears during the post-game celebration, Mulkey said she was "emotional from Cox's injury", which was painfully similar to the torn ACL that senior point guard Kristy Wallace suffered a year ago "that kept us from getting (to the Final Four)".

"I'm overcome with happiness, " said Brown, the 6-foot-7 senior center who was a three-time unanimous All-Big 12 pick with the Lady Bears. I don't know. When you play with fire like that at the beginning and have to use so much energy to come back... did we have anything left in the tank to get that stop? "I mean, there's no question that's what was going to happen. But against a Baylor team like this, you're not guaranteed to come out on top on a comeback, and credit to them, they held on". She got tangled up with Kalani Brown on the defensive end and went down clutching her left knee with about a minute to go in the third quarter. "She feels like she has to carry us because she's the leading scorer", McGraw said.

Notre Dame won the national championship a year ago.

There was no doubt who they'd turn to after Chloe Jackson made a tiebreaking layup for Baylor with 3.9 seconds left. "I needed to make them understand, 'We're going to still win this basketball game". Jackson capped a 10-point quarter with a driving layup as time expired for a 25-14 Bears lead.

Arike Ogunbowale wipes away tears as she walks off the floor.

Jackson added of Cox, "We had to finish the job for her".

Baylor took a 43-31 lead into halftime.

Mulkey now joins Geno Auriemma and Pat Summitt as the only coaches in women's Division-I history with three-or-more titles.

If this Final Four, and that tournament as a whole, was not enough to convince you that women's basketball is worth watching, well, that says more about you than the game.

The three titles put Mulkey behind only Geno Auriemma, who has 11 at CT, and the late Pat Summitt, who had eight at Tennessee, in the women's game.

Had one more shot gone differently, Marina Mabrey's name would have been etched into basketball lore forever. Both teams have dominant inside players. Mulkey's daughter, Makenzie Fuller, had a daughter who was stillborn in November 2017.

Last year's title run by Notre Dame was a shock. Kim Mulkey's team beat the Irish for that championship, 80-61, capping off a record 40-0 season. So she looked to her coach, Muffet McGraw. She did also have nine rebounds and six assists in the loss. "We kind of knew they were going to come the way they came in the fourth".

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