Led by Chloe Jackson Baylor earns third national title, holds off Notre Dame 82-81
TAMPA, Fla. – Just like in 2012, Baylor defeated Notre Dame to win the national title. However, this season, the game was a closer contested matchup with Notre Dame sharpshooter Arike Ogunbowale missing a potential game-tying free throw in the final second. The win marked the third championship for the Lady Bears adding to their titles in 2005 and 2012.
It was a hard-fought battle against Notre Dame as the Irish clawed back from a 17-point deficit to make the contest go down to the wire. Baylor seemed to be in complete control early on, end the first quarter with a 25-14 lead.
“Notre Dame, do I even need to tell you how good they are?” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey asked postgame. They’re the defending national champions, can score at all positions, play the zone against us. I don’t think people thought we could score against the zone. We scored a lot of points.”
Heading into halftime, Baylor was still in the lead by double digits, 43-31.
While Baylor lost junior forward Lauren Cox, the team’s second leading scorer, to injury late in the third quarter and seemed rattled for several few minutes, they managed to hold off Notre Dame. The Irish went on a 19-11 run to tie the game at 5:18 in the fourth quarter and had the lead for 44 seconds in the last few minutes. However, Baylor quickly retaliated and closed out the game on a 6-4 run.
“The worst part of the game was Lauren Cox,” Mulkey said in talking about Cox’s injury. “We controlled that game from the start till the time she went off the floor. We had to regroup. For us to win probably was a miracle in itself when you lose a player of that caliber, not only the talent she has, but she’s our leader, people.”
Senior guard Chloe Jackson, the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player, led her team with a Baylor career-high of 26 points plus five assists. Jackson is a graduate transfer from LSU. This was her only year playing for the Lady Bears.
“My teammates and my coaches, they believe in me so much,” Jackson said about her performance and motivation. And for LC [Lauren Cox], she got us here and we had to finish the job for her.”
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said she thought Jackson “really was the key to the game. We really couldn’t guard her. [Kalani] Brown gave us a lot of trouble, as well. Those two really played well.”
Brown, a senior center, earned a double-double for Baylor scoring 20 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Freshman forward Nalyssa Smith was also in double figures with 14 points and six rebounds.
Irish senior guard Ogunbowale led all scorers with 31 points plus six rebounds. Fellow senior guard Marina Mabrey added 21 points. Grad student forward Brianna Turner and senior forward Jessica Shepard tallied a double-doubles. Turner finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds plus five assists. Shepard added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Baylor moves to 5-2 all-time against Notre Dame and increased their overall win streak to 29 games.
Chloe Jackson, Baylor – Most Outstanding Player
Kalani Brown, Baylor
Lauren Cox, Baylor
Marina Mabrey, Notre Dame
Arike Ogunbowale, Notre Dame
- The Lady Bears have collected 50 NCAA Tournament wins.
- Baylor is 6-1 all-time in Final Four games.
- Baylor is 3-0 in national championship contests.
- The Lady Bears are 50-15 in the NCAA Tournament.
- The 25 points scored by Baylor in the first quarter rank as the third-highest output for a single quarter in an NCAA championship game.
- Arike Ogunbowale finishes her career with a program record 2,626 points. Her 31 points in the championship game ranks second for points by an individual in a championship game. The record of 47 was set in 1993 by Sheryl Swoopes (Texas Tech).
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