Published: Tue, April 09, 2019
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Baylor victory overcomes pall from injury to Cox

Baylor victory overcomes pall from injury to Cox

Baylor forward Lauren Cox (15) shoots against OR during the first half of a Final Four semifinal of the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Friday, April 5, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. In the final seconds, Notre Dame got one last opportunity to score, when the Bears fouled Arike Ogunbowale with a 82-80 lead. "A national championship is what I came here for". "She had so many key blocked shots". Will the Irish go out with back-to-back titles or will Baylor win their first title in seven years?

Jackson led the Bears, who won their third national championship, with 26 points on 13-of-25 shooting.

Notre Dame guard Arike Ogunbowale had 23 points and six assists in Friday's victory against CT. The rivalry between the two teams and their coaches has been one of the highlights of the sport over the past decade, and as always, it delivered Friday.

The starting five of Ogunbowale, Turner, Mabrey, Young and Jessica Shepard finished the season with 10,230 career points - an NCAA Division I record for both men and women. Samuelson got the last dig after she was fouled behind the arc and hit a trio of free throws to put CT up 54-52 heading into the fourth quarter.

"It's tough", Ogunbowale told reporters when asked about her free throw miss. Post-game, an emotional Mulkey was asked by ESPN's Holly Rowe why she was crying.

"I bought the tickets back in August, and every time they play a game I text them and say way to go girls!"

Katie Lou Samuelson scored 20 points for coach Geno Auriemma's Huskies (35-3).

"Obviously you know we're incredibly disappointed that we didn't win the game, but we played a great team and they played really, really well when they had to", Auriemma said. "So, I guess I'll figure it out when I get to South Bend, I'm not really sure yet". But for all these women and their daughters, it's a love and a bond they felt from the beginning, regardless of Sunday night's outcome.

Brianna Turner is the only player still around when the teams last met, in a region final in 2015. The Irish outrebounded UConn 54-37 in the semifinals, including a 22-11 edge on the offensive glass. A game with an unprecedented level of history between the two teams and a fourth-quarter comeback?

"We had to do it for LC", Chloe Jackson, referring to Cox, told reporters after the game. Ogunbowale was last year's tournament hero, winning the national championship for Notre Dame on a buzzer beater.

There has been a different vibe around UConn this season.

Former UConn star Stefanie Dolson is no stranger to making the Final Four.

The Huskies jumped out to a 13-4 lead behind strong play from Collier and a stellar defensive effort as the Irish missed 14 of their first 16 shots. The Irish closed the opening period with a 8-3 burst to only trail by four after one quarter. Baylor then ran the clock out on two in-bounds passes to prevent head coach Muffet McGraw's Fighting Irish from repeating as national champions.

Brown only had a few hours back in Waco before she was flying to NY on Monday night in advance of this week's WNBA draft. "But sometimes you just get a group of girls ... this bunch had it".

"She's our leader", Jackson said. She settled into her seat and answered questions tossed to her with brevity. "They continue to encourage her and she came alive in the second half". The part they just didn't see coming was Cox's injury.

The game was a rematch of the 2012 title game, also won by the Bears.

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