Published: Wed, April 10, 2019
Sport | By Joe Gonzales

Baylor holds off Notre Dame, 82-81, for women's title

Baylor holds off Notre Dame, 82-81, for women's title

This year, a star went down, but the season ends with a championship. The scoreboards in the arena read 82-81 for the final score against the Fighting Irish, the same team the Lady Bears beat for the national title seven years earlier.

Baylor put its stamp on the game right away, forcing a Notre Dame timeout just 3:46 into the game when Jackson canned a jumper for an 11-3 lead. Both games were exciting and hard-fought, with each roster boasting electric players - Sabrina Ionescu, Kalani Brown, Arike Ogunbowale and Katie Lou Samuelson leap to mind, among others - and both had an insane number of ties and lead changes. Ogunbowale was fouled with 1.9 seconds remaining as Notre Dame trailed 82-80. Ogunbowale was fouled trying for a layup, then missed the first of two free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining.

"It's tough", Ogunbowale said. "You can't really do anything about that one". She talked about how hard it was to make it to just one Final Four, and how there simply was no guarantee that Baylor would ever make it back.

Given the opportunity, Notre Dame quickly began cutting into the lead. "She gave us that spark, for sure, because it was like we said, we don't miss a beat when they sub in".

"We had to do it for LC", Chloe Jackson, referring to Cox, told reporters after the game.

A hobbled Cox - who had to leave the game in a wheelchair - was able to return to the court before the game ended and got to hoist the trophy with her teammates.

"They just kept doing what we've been taught to do, and that's guard people", Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "I mean, there's no question that's what was going to happen".

The lead swung back and forth over the final moments of the game, and somewhat appropriately, was won on a layup by Baylor guard Chloe Jackson who exploded for 26 points in the biggest game of her career.

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But soon after, Brown suffered a cramp and had to come out of the game.

"I'd rather be playing a game like this in front of, hopefully, 12 to 13,000 fans".

The Bears have won 29 consecutive games, last losing at Stanford in December. She's now in her fourth season on Mulkey's staff, serving as associate director of basketball operations. Mulkey talked Saturday about how she and her daughter, Makenzie Fuller, did not have had time to grieve properly after the death of Makenzie's infant daughter, Scout Marie. The stillborn infant was delivered after doctors didn't detect a heartbeat during a weekly checkup, according to CNN affiliate KWTX.

Mulkey now joins Geno Auriemma and Pat Summitt as the only coaches in women's Division-I history with three-or-more titles.

Mulkey was teary-eyed upon winning and also was carrying around a baby.

Had one more shot gone differently, Marina Mabrey's name would have been etched into basketball lore forever. But we had the same thing previous year. She made the second, but the Irish never got the ball back. "But against a Baylor team like this, you're not guaranteed to come out on top on a comeback, and credit to them, they held on".

It was different entering the 2018-2019 season.

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