COLUMBUS, Ohio – What an incredible weekend of women’s college basketball here at Nationwide Arena in the great city of Columbus!
In what has to be the greatest Final Four weekend in the history of the sport, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish captured the 2018 Women’s Basketball National Championship with a little bit of some “Luck Of The Irish” in their 61-58 buzzer-beating victory over Mississippi State.
Notre Dame came out to a 10-4 lead going into the media timeout of the first quarter, but Mississippi State would come roaring with a 13-2 run to claim the lead. The Bulldogs would take a 17-14 lead after the first quarter fueled by seven points and five rebounds by Teaira McCowan as well as six points and three rebounds from Victoria Vivians.
Mississippi State continued to roll as they headed into the half on a 26-7 run. The Bulldogs took a commanding 30-17 halftime lead fueled by 14 points from Victoria Vivians. Notre Dame certainly didn’t help their own cause in the first half as they only shot 30% and committed 12 tunovers in the first 20 minutes of the game.
Notre Dame found themselves down by 15 with just a few minutes left in the third quarter when the Irish mounted a 16-1 run to end the quarter and tie the game at 41 heading into the fourth and final quarter.
The Irish and the Bulldogs went blow for blow in the fourth quarter till the very end of the game as both teams were tied up at 58 with three seconds left.
That’s when greatness happened.
NOTRE DAME WINS THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP AT THE BUZZER pic.twitter.com/uv5zkr4Bj3
— Taylor Ashbrook (@taylor_ashbrook) April 2, 2018
Arike Ogunbowale pulled up for three and drained the shot with just .1 second remaining on the game clock to deliver Notre Dame their first national title since 2001.
Ohio Native Wins It All In Home State
Ohio native Kathryn Westbeld played a crucial role in the Irish’s victory as she grabbed a team-high nine rebounds and added six points as well.
When I asked Westbeld in her postgame press conference about what it was like to win a national championship in her home state, she replied, “For it to be in my home state, to just have all my friends and family here, I just honestly couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Best Final Four Ever?
I think it’s fair to say this was at least the greatest Final Four in the history of women’s basketball, if not in both men’s and women’s hoops.
What transpired this weekend has never happened in the history of the sport. Two overtimes games in the Final Four, one of them being a buzzer-beating OT winner, then two nights later in the championship game, both teams are neck and neck down the stretch and a team wins on a buzzer beater to win the national championship.
We may never see another Final Four like this ever again in men’s or women’s college basketball. This weekend at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio will go down as one of the greatest and most entertaining championship weekends in the history of the sport of basketball.
Thank you to the four teams (UConn, Louisville, Mississippi State, Notre Dame) for giving basketball fans a weekend to remember and for showing the world just how amazing women’s athletics are.