Notre Dame upsets UConn 91-89 in OT
In a battle of No. 1 seeds, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish upset the UConn Huskies on a last-second jumper winning 91-89 in overtime.
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.
Ogunbowale finished with 27 points. Jackie Young led the Irish with 32 points and 11 rebounds. UConn had five players in double digits, led by Napheesa Collier with 24.
A year after being shocked in the Final Four, the UConn Huskies (36-1) were looking for a chance at revenge.
UConn was seen as the favorites last year right up until Mississippi State ended both their 111-game winning streak and run of four straight national titles in the national semifinals.
Instead, it will be Notre Dame that will face Mississippi State in Sunday’s final after the Bulldogs also won in OT over Louisville 73-63.
UConn laid claim to three AP All-American team selections (first teamer Katie Lou Samuelson, second team selection Gabby Williams and third team pick Napheesa Collier) and two honorable mentions, one of whom, senior guard Kia Nurse, was recently named the WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year.
While the Huskies were playing in their record 11th straight and 19th overall Final Four in hopes of winning their 12th national title. Before Friday night, they hadn’t been tested in this tournament so far, winning their four games by a 155-point margin, although more than half of that came in a record-setting first-round 140-52 win over St. Francis (Pa.).
Notre Dame (34-3) was one of just two teams that lost to the Huskies by single-digits during the regular season. That 80-71 loss on Dec. 3 actually saw the Fighting Irish leading by 11 points early in the fourth quarter before UConn went on a 26-6 run to end the game.
Notre Dame would lose only two more games the rest of the year, with both losses coming to Louisville.
That success has come despite Notre Dame losing four key contributors to knee injuries. With Brianna Turner sitting the entire season while rehabbing a torn ACL suffered last season, the Fighting Irish also saw freshman Mychal Johnson and seniors Mikayla Vaughn and Lili Thompson sidelined with torn knee ligaments.
Shorthanded, Notre Dame has relied on AP All-American second teamer Arike Ogunbowale, who has averaged 25 points in the tournament. It’s also seen junior forward Jessica Shepard average just short of a double-double (20 points, 9.75 rebounds) in the tournament while Marina Mabrey (19.5 points) and Jackie Young (15 points) have averaged double-digit scoring in the tourney.
The Fighting Irish are playing in their seventh Final Four and seeking the program’s second national title, with their previous championship coming in 2001.