NCAA women's basketball championship: Baylor wins 3rd title

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With Baylor up by as much as 17 points, this season's title game looked like it was going to be a repeat of the 2012 championship between these two teams, when Baylor, led by their star center Brittney Griner, cruised to a 80-61 victory.

"Obviously (Cox) is our leader. I am excited about what comes next". "Our motto is 'Together to Tampa.'".

"I don't think it's any secret that we had just a terrible year with the death of a grandchild, yet I don't think as a family, I'm talking about Makenzie and myself, we had time to grieve", Mulkey said after Baylor's win against OR in the Final Four.

Before the NCAA tournament, Notre Dame was the consensus statistical favorite, but Baylor has been so dominant in March and April - aside from Friday's narrow win over OR to reach the title game.

If the wrong player gets in foul trouble, it could be a disaster for her team. Notre Dame went right at Smith, either attacking her in the low post or using a ball screen to get Ogunbowale matched up with her on the perimeter.

The basket capped a career night for the converted shooting guard, moved to point last fall.

After 62 games, the stage is set for the national championship game between the defending champion Notre Dame and the tournament's No. 1 overall seed Baylor. I've always said coming in here, all the time, there's certain things that when you have a certain kind of team, there's certain things that the other team can do to you that you don't have anything that you can come back with and say, Well, I know how we can get a stop, we'll trap them.Well, that doesn't work against these guys because they always find the open guy. Wasn't exactly how we thought it would go. Ogunbowale was fouled trying for a layup, then missed the first of two free throws with 1.9 seconds remaining.

Chavez, a freshman guard averaging 18 minutes per game, came to OR with a reputation for being a shooter. "But knowing what this group has meant to us, it makes it tougher to lose this way".

Indeed, a near-drubbing preceded the drama. Baylor led by 12 at halftime, 43-31, on the strength of a whopping 30 points in the paint. Jackson capped a 10-point quarter with a driving layup as time expired for a 25-14 Bears lead.

Notre Dame, meantime, missed 15 of its first 16 shots, finishing 11-for-40 from the floor (27.5%) in the first 20 minutes. "Just didn't come out ready".

A jumper by Ogunbowale with 9:06 to play trimmed the Lady Bears' edge to 66-60, and Marina Mabrey's 3-pointer with 5:18 to play pulled the Irish even at 74-74. Then they met OR on Friday night and found themselves in a back-and-forth contest that featured 12 ties and 22 lead changes.

"If Lauren Cox didn't get up, it's very severe", Mulkey told ESPN during an in-game interview. That included a buzzer-beating 3 at the end of the third quarter to spark an 11-0 Notre Dame run. Meanwhile, Notre Dame's starting five - all of whom came into the game averaging double-digit points - were shooting cold. Baylor 6-4 junior Lauren Cox, who joined 6-7 Kalani Brown on the nation's most formidable front line, suffered a severe left leg injury during a battle for a rebound. "She gave us that spark for sure".

The UConn point guard is the best free-throw shooter left in the field and the 11th-best in the nation, sinking 92.4% of her attempts from the charity stripe.

"It feels wonderful", Bears junior guard Juicy Landrum said.

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