Notre Dames Arike Ogunbowale will always have the 2018 NCAA Championship. No player has ever had a better weekend in the history of the Big Dance. When her hoops career is long over, the 5-foot-8 junior guard from Milwaukee will be remembered as the clutchiest of the clutch when it comes to March Madness hoops.
She took excellence under pressure to new heights. Ogunbowale had her Black Mamba moment, not once but twice. The second time it was for all the marbles, as she drained a jumper with time expiring and lifted Notre Dame to a 61-58 win over Mississippi State to capture the NCAA National Women’s Basketball Championship on Sunday night in Ohio.
Nobody does buzzer-beaters like Arike Ogunbowale. https://t.co/M6q4VdRpKC
Ogunbowale is a fearless, underdog who put her enormous talents on full display by slaying two fierce teams in the iconic UConn and then a Mississippi State team looking to avenge last season’s championship loss to South Carolina.
Her fighting spirit was supreme. She never backed down or let the magnitude of the moment paralyze her. She also got some sweet revenge against a spoiled and entitled coach Auriemma who didnt like the fact UConn didn’t make the cut of final five teams Ogunbowale was considering as a blue-chip recruit out of high school.
She definitely made Auriemma pay on that one.
On July 13, 2014 at 6:06 pm, Arike Ogunbowale tweeted her final five colleges she was considering. UCONN was not included on her list. 14 minutes later, Geno Auriemma tweeted. Arike gets the last laugh.
Notre Dame has a strong women’s basketball tradition. This season was most challenging for a squad that lost four key players, including two starters, to ACL tears and used a six-player rotation throughout the tournament. Less than three months ago, Louisville had whooped them by 33 points, but the resilience the team showed is how dreams become a reality. If not for those injuries, maybe Ogunbowale never rises to the occasion or has to carry such responsibilities that have ultimately immortalized her in March Madness lore. She helped Notre Dame shock the world as well as the seasoned announcers covering the game.
Arike Ogunbowale’s game-winner left @adamamin breathless and @RebeccaLobo and @karalawson20 speechless. https://t.co/qYkjpS6AyW
We are quickly learning the backstory of this big time baller whose Twitter account is up to 15K following her NCAA exploits. Ogunbowale used to wander outside the house at the age of two, just holding a basketball and gazing at the hoop in the yard. From there, her parents got her a Fisher-Price hoop and the rest was history. She would take shot after shot after shot, with her moms only interjection being, concentrate.
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Ogunbowale’s game blossomed. When she was 10 she played on the 13-year-old team, and the 12-year-old team, and the 11-year-old team, anywhere she could get a game in. All of those shots and the concentration has paid off in one of the unexpected and watershed moments in women’s college basketball history.
Never has there been such a Queenslayer before Arike Ogunbowale epitomized the definition of clutch in the 2018 Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament.