In overtime, the Bulldogs asserted themselves and Morgan William, who hit the game-winning shot in OT past year in the Final Four to end UConn's 111-game winning streak, made two free throws in the last minute to help Mississippi State (37-1) pull away. The Fighting Irish won with an wonderful jumper with a single second on the clock to keep the Huskies out of the Championship Game for the second year in a row. Ogunbowale finished with 27 points and Jackie Young had a career-high 32 to send Notre Dame to the title game for the first time since 2015.
The Mississippi State-Louisville victor will take on the victor of Friday's other semifinal game between UConn and Notre Dame.
After going on a run in which it won four consecutive national titles, the UConn Huskies have seen their season end in the national semifinals each of the last two seasons.
The Cardinals won the ACC regular season and conference tournament for the first time in school history. There are no bad teams, no bad players.
"We treat it like any other game", Ogunbowale said of facing the team that has dominated women's college basketball for the better part of two decades.
"They've weathered every storm that's come their way, worn a bulls-eye on their back from what they accomplished a year ago", Schaefer said. "It's been a great effort all the way around by building vendors, ESPN, and the NCAA to make this event special".
"They made one more big play tonight than we did", Auriemma said. The Irish will be looking for the program's first national championship since 2001.
It's rare that a team gets one shot to beat UConn.
So now the stage for the title game has been set, and it will once again go on without UConn.
"That's the unfortunate thing about being a senior in college", Auriemma said.
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"It was the second or third time we beat them in the semifinal, that's been our lucky charm", coach Muffet McGraw said.
Coach Vic Schaefer, a former assistant coach at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said the Bulldogs are tempered by the fight in last year's tournament and a long, rigorous season that saw them to go 32-0 until losing to SC in the SEC Tournament. Let's start by going to the final 20 seconds of the fourth quarter, in which the Fighting Irish had a five-point lead.
Like Notre Dame has done much of the tournament, it was the better team in the second half.
Notre Dame gave UConn their first defeat of the year, defeating the Huskies 91-89. Stevens had five quick points, and Katie Lou Samuelson hit a 3-pointer during the Huskies' run.
Mississippi State is in a familiar position: one win away from a national championship.
UConn junior forward Napheesa Collier led the Huskies with 24 points.
Johnson hit only two shots from the field during the game, although there wasn't a bigger attempt than the one that forced overtime.
The 6-foot-7 center poses a almost impossible matchup and uses her size and strength well. And you thought I was kidding when I said Uconn is destroying opponents?
It looked like they were going to pull off the upset of the Huskies when they were up by five late, especially since they led by 2 and had the ball with only 15 seconds left in regulation. "They're a great team, we're a great team, and there's no reason for us to be scared of anybody".