Notre Dame vs. Mississippi State

Mississippi State's Victoria Vivians and coach Vic Schaefer review the game plan for tonight's Final Four matchup with Louisville in Columbus Ohio

McCowan was a dominant force in the game, and Notre Dame had no answer for her.

Notre Dame guard Marina Mabrey (3) knocks the ball loose from Mississippi State guard Morgan William (2) with four seconds left. She hit the last shot Friday night to give the Irish the win over UConn in the national semifinal.

The referees added 0.1 seconds back to the clock, but it was for naught.

Shepard, the transfer from Nebraska cleared to play just before the season, shot 8-for-10 from the field for a game-high 19 points, plus six rebounds.

"It's Easter Sunday, and all the Catholics were praying for us", said coach Muffet McGraw, who was wearing floral shoes in honor of the holiday.

The coach did at least partially attribute the shot to some divine intervention.

A final score of 61-58 was the result of a major comeback for the Irish after pulling away from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter, and another five-point deficit in the final two minutes. The Irish needed to grab more rebounds (center Jessica Shepard had one in the first half), keep the 6-foot-7 McCowan off the offensive boards (she had three of Mississippi State's seven), then get out in transition - their strength all season.

"Phenomenal for women's basketball". ". Definitely one of the best Final Fours since, well, 2001, right?"

On Sunday, they proved their resilience once again.

The Bulldogs led at halftime 30-17.

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Ogunbowale scored 18 in the game and was, rightfully, named the Final Four's most outstanding player.

Ogunbowale finished with 18 points, 16 in the second half, and her relentless driving to the basket became the Irish's offense in the second half. "I said I love you, and she said thank you, I love you, too", said Thompson.

"We were right there", Mississippi State's Jazzmun Holmes said, "and we couldn't finish it up".

With the game tied, Ogunbowale took the inbounds pass and dribbled to the corner, hitting the game-winner.

"'What though the odds, ' that's part of our fight song", McGraw said.

Senior associate athletics director John Heisler has been covering the Notre Dame sports scene since 1978. Relentless, competitive, they have a swagger.

Notre Dame's win ended a remarkable season for a Mississippi State team that has been trying to break through to the upper echelon of women's basketball for years. McCowan fouled Jackie Young, and Notre Dame called a timeout to set up the winning play, which was hardly a play at all. Mississippi State beat UConn in last year's Final Four but came up short against SC in the championship game.

Give Notre Dame credit for making one more play than State.

"You're up five with 1:40 [to play], it's my job to get them home, and I didn't get them home". It's our job to get open. I didn't get 'em home. I will wear that maybe for the rest of my career.

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