Published: Sun, April 07, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Irish prepare for battle in the paint with Bears in national championship

Irish prepare for battle in the paint with Bears in national championship

Locked in a close game for the first time in weeks, Baylor never flinched.

The two-time champions won their 28th straight game, exerting themselves defensively down the stretch. Forward Lauren Cox added 21.

"She probably feels like she has to carry us because she's our leading scorer", McGraw said. Bears Coach Kim Mulkey sat one row behind Connecticut's bench to take in the second game, a bolt of blond hair and a hot-pink suit in a swarm of Baylor green. Now, Baylor has a chance to win its third national title with her in charge, facing Notre Dame for the title on Sunday night. The Fighting Irish felt so weighed down that a season's normal milestones - when the team found its chemistry, when it started having fun and when it found its focus - arrived much later than usual.

McGraw, during her Thursday's news conference, said it's time for more women in positions of power, and not just in women's basketball.

"We've played in big games", Cox said.

"There was nothing to draw up".

"Well, you're getting to play for a championship", Mulkey said.

Pac-12 Networks' Kate Scott speaks with star OR guard Sabrina Ionescu after the Ducks' Final Four run came to an end in a loss to Baylor. "I'm overwhelmed. I'm just happy to be a part of this team right now". "We certainly belonged to be here", Graves added. "We still had a chance".

"Well, when we got up nine, two things we knew were going to happen". We saw bits and pieces of it here and there.

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However, as the final buzzer sounded and it was clear the team's season was over, fans cheered and applauded their team, thankful for the season they were given.

"I don't think it was any mystery you know who was going to be taking the majority of their shots in the fourth quarter", UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.

OR was one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the nation this season, but was just 12-of-32 from behind the arc and shot 36.8 percent overall.

Notre Dame is trying to become the fourth different school to win consecutive championships - UConn, Tennessee and USC have done it. Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw danced at midcourt after this comeback victory.

This game between the Huskies and the Irish was a rematch of last season's Final Four classic that Notre Dame won on a last-second shot by Ogunbowale. Taylor Chavez, a top recruit for OR last season, will have another year to learn from the best point guard in college basketball.

Notre Dame (35-3) trailed 64-55 with 7:52 left before scoring 13 of the next 16 points to take a 68-66 lead on Ogunbowale's short jumper with 3:56 left. The teams then traded the lead five times over the next few minutes with Jessica Shepard hitting a jumper from the foul line with 1:27 left to put the Irish ahead 75-74.

The Notre Dame team celebrates at the end of the team's 81-76 win over CT during a Final Four semifinal of the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Friday, April 5, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. On UConn's side, Katie Lou Samuelson put up 20 points, while Napheesa Collier had 19.

The 5-foot-11 guard from Walnut Creek, California, was the only player in the country averaging at least 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

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