Baylor holds off Irish for crown

Notre Dame and Baylor to meet in Sunday's championship game

The two teams were going back and forth until Jackson's game-winning layup. Both games were exciting and hard-fought, with each roster boasting electric players - Sabrina Ionescu, Kalani Brown, Arike Ogunbowale and Katie Lou Samuelson leap to mind, among others - and both had an insane number of ties and lead changes.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey doesn't pick out her own clothes for most games, and definitely not the big ones. And maybe if the Irish come out on top, we'd be talking about the Mabrey fueled comeback for years to come. That team is so good, so talented.

Baylor was able to pull off the win without star forward Lauren Cox, who injured her knee in a frightening scene late in the third quarter.

Almost upstaging her was Ogunbowale, who led all scorers with 31 and helped the Irish rally from a 17-point second-half deficit. The senior missed her first free throw, and then she made the second despite intentionally trying to miss.

"My teammates and my coaches believed in me so much", Jackson said to ESPN.

"For sure. I knew, coming to Baylor with the team we had set up and then getting a grad transfer like Chloe, it was going to be a special year for us", Smith said, beaming at her locker.

"We had to do it for LC", Chloe Jackson, referring to Cox, told reporters after the game.

Baylor's path to the championship round similarly required facing a No. 2 seed, with the Bears beating fellow Nike team University of OR 72-67. I just know when you lose a big-time player in the middle of a national championship game, you're not supposed to win.

Last year's title run by Notre Dame was a shock. This came on the heels of a 2018 Final Four that saw both games go into overtime, the first time that had ever happened as well.

But previous year was about a lot more than losses on the court. 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. She nailed a buzzer beating 3-pointer to end the third and again knocked one down from long range to cut the team's deficit to 66-60.

"It just wasn't meant to be".

"They work so hard", one fan said. The year after the Lady Bears won their last title, she returned most of the team and they were upset by Louisville in the Sweet 16. "We controlled that game from the start till the time she went off the floor". Her mom was tearing up in the stands, and her dad had his hands over his face.

As the jubilation overcame the dark moment of the injury, Cox added another high to the experience, making it up the ladder to take her turn during the celebratory cutting down of the net. I needed to make them understand, We're going to still win this basketball game. There's a reason she is the undisputed master of triple doubles in college basketball: she is dominant in every aspect of the game. Ogunbowale was fouled with 1.9 seconds remaining as Notre Dame trailed 82-80. Daughter Makenzie is on the coaching staff, and infant grandson Kannon Reid was sitting in the front row behind the bench. "But sometimes you just get a group of girls. this bunch had it". Overall, almost 275,000 fans attended the entire tournament, which ranks eighth all-time, including 20,127 for the title game. The last time was in 2012 with these same coaches.

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