TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Arike Ogunbowale scored 23 points and led Notre Dame’s rally from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter as the defending champion Irish beat UConn 81-76 Friday night to return to the title game.
The Irish will face Baylor for the crown Sunday night, trying to become the fourth different school to win consecutive championships — UConn, Tennessee and Southern California have done it. Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw danced a little jig at midcourt after this comeback victory.
Baylor beat Oregon 72-67 in the first semifinal, setting up a rematch of the 2012 national championship game the Lady Bears won 80-61.
This game between the Huskies and the Irish was a rematch of last season’s Final Four classic that Notre Dame won on a last-second shot by Ogunbowale. This one — the latest chapter in the greatest rivalry in women’s basketball over the past decade — provided a fitting encore.
BAYLOR 72, OREGON 67
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Kalani Brown scored 22 points and Lauren Cox added 21 as Baylor held off Final Four newcomer Oregon 72-67 Friday night to reach the women’s championship game for the first time since 2012.
The Lady Bears (36-1) won their 28th straight game, exerting themselves defensively down the stretch. Chloe Jackson delivered a go-ahead layup with 39 seconds left and Brown and Cox finished out the victory with free throws for the overall top-seeded team.
Baylor will play the winner of the UConn-Notre Dame semifinal for the title on Sunday night.
All-American Sabrina Ionescu led Oregon (33-5) with 18 points, but didn’t score in the fourth quarter. She missed a layup that would have given her team the lead in the final minute and the Ducks misfired on 11 of their last 12 shots.