What more could you ask of a national championship game? Both teams showed an iron will to best the other. Competing to the final .3 seconds ticked from the clock with Baylor’s name being lifted in victory.
From the opening tip, Baylor controlled the game, breaking the scoring cap with a Chloe Jackson lay in. Notre Dame would answer back with a three from Marina Mabrey, Notre Dame’s all-time career three-point leader.
Baylor answered back with an 11-0 run in the absence of Kalani Brown, who battled a leg cramp in the first half. Runs like these would be the norm throughout the game as Baylor’s lead would grow to 17 points in the second quarter. Baylor could taste their national championship by halftime until Mabrey set fire to the net with 12 of her 21 points in the fourth quarter.
The defending national champions brilliance set in as they eyed another trip to the podium. With 3:18 left in the game they’d take the lead for the first time in 35 minutes with a free throw from Arike Ogunbowale. Her 31 points would lead all scorers in the game.
As crunch time passed the Irish and Bears would play tug of war for the lead. A Kalani Brown jumper would push the Bears forward, while a Notre Dame free throw from Jessica Sheppard would square them.
Chloe Jackson’s jumper would edge Baylor forward just as another pair of Sheppard’s free throws would tie things up. But once again most outstanding player, Chloe Jackson would have the final say as she put her team 2 points ahead with six seconds to go leaving Notre Dame with one more chance to make a statement. The Irish countered with a play drawn up for Ogunbowale to work her game-winning magic that lead to her being fouled. She’d split the free throws, sinking hearts to the pit of their stomachs.
Baylor earns the right to raise their third banner in Waco after the 82-81 win. A great way to close out seniors Brown and Jackson.