Notre Dame and UConn met in a rematch of the last year’s Final Four matchup, which Notre Dame won on a last-second jump shot by Arike Ogunbowale.
The Fighting Irish needed late-game heroics once again to beat the Huskies on Friday night, 81-76.
This game was a tale of two halves. UConn held a one-point lead at halftime as Katie Lou Samuelson was held scoreless. For Notre Dame, Ogunbowale scored just two points in the first half. But in the second half, Samuelson scored 20 points while Ogunbowale put up 21 points.
The third quarter saw the Irish lead by as many as four points multiple times, and they had a chance to take a one-point lead into the final quarter. However, a foul on a Samuelson three-point attempt put the Huskies in front, 54-52, as Samuelson made all three shots from the line.
UConn opened the fourth quarter on a 13-3 run that extended their lead to nine points with just under eight minutes remaining in the game. Four minutes later, the Irish retook the lead. The lead would change five more times, putting the Huskies in front, 73-72, on a Samuelson layup.
On the ensuing Notre Dame possession, Jessica Shepard scored the final two of her 20 points, putting Notre Dame ahead for the last time.
With just under a minute to play and trailing 76-73, Napheesa Collier attempted to cut the Irish’s lead to one point, but Brianna Turner’s fifth block of the game denied Collier a scoring opportunity. Free throws by Ogunbowale and Turner closed out the win.
Notre Dame used 22 offensive rebounds to score 22 second-chance points. UConn had just nine second-chance points on 11 offensive rebounds. This seems to be the difference, as UConn led in just about every other category.
In Sunday’s national title game, Notre Dame and Baylor face off in a rematch of the 2012 national championship, which Baylor won easily, 80-61. Notre Dame is hoping to the fourth women’s program to win back-to-back national championships, joining UConn, USC and Tennessee.
NCAAW National Championship
When: Sunday, April 7, at 6 p.m. ET
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa, FL
How to watch: ESPN, WatchESPN
More ways to watch the games
Want to watch in person? National championship tickets can be found here.