Baylor holds off Notre Dame 82-81 for women's title

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

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

I still couldn't. It's not a celebration when you're supposed to win, and you win by 20. "She got the best out of me".

When the Irish were down by as many as 17, it might have seemed to some like the finals were not almost as exciting as last year's.

Another big rebound and a few clutch free throws later and Turner and No. 1 Notre Dame defeated UConn 81-76 in the NCAA semifinal for a second consecutive year, earning a date with No. 1 overall seeded Baylor in the national championship at 6 p.m. Sunday.

The loss of Cox put Baylor on the ropes.

Baylor defeated OR in a 72-67 thriller before Notre Dame took down CT for the second year in a row, 81-76. In 2012, Baylor went 40-0 when Makenzie (Robertson) Fuller was a guard on that title team.

The Fighting Irish stressed, though, that Ogunbowale's miss wasn't the difference in the game. "We did bring a national championship".

Smith said she was already motivated to play after Cox went out, but even more so when Cox returned to the bench on crutches. I just know when you lose a big-time player in the middle of a national championship game, you're not supposed to win. "I've been the favorite and not won as there are no guarantees in this business".

Sunday's game will mark the eighth time in the past 20 years that there have been two female head coaches in the title game but only the second time since 2008.

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There was no late-game heroics needed by Ogunbowale this Final Four; it was a season ago when Ogunbowale hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat the Huskies 91-89 and send the Irish to the title game in dramatic fashion. But there were some truly great things to take away from the women's Final Four weekend as a whole, and I'm choosing to focus on those.

Samuelson was the first to hit in a big way, scoring 15 points in the third quarter. Makenzie played for Mulkey and is now on her mom's staff at Baylor.

"Basically, I just kept eating to stay awake", she said. So proud of her. She really stepped up today, her and Christyn. She still has to make those shots and she did.

The victory broke a tie for third all-time between Mulkey and McGraw for career NCAA titles. The victor of the title game will move into sole possession of third place on the all-time list behind Geno Auriemma (11) and Pat Summitt (8). That kid is going to be a dynamite player. Both teams have dominant inside players.

Notre Dame got within seven points in the third quarter, but Baylor appeared to have righted the ship and had pulled ahead 62-48 when Cox collided with Brown during a defensive possession and collapsed to the ground with an apparent left knee injury. "This will provide a tough challenge for Jessica Shepard and Brianna Turner who are 6'4" and 6'3" respectively. The Lady Bears had only a 38-33 advantage in their win over Oregon.

"I'm one of the leaders on the team, so just to have my voice there (on the bench) and tell them I'm still OK, they told me they were going to do this for me", Cox said.

"I went there because I knew what kind of program they had and what kind of coach (Kim) Mulkey was", Mosby said.

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