Sports

Notre Dame’s Game-Winning Jumper Gave UConn Some Nasty Déjà Vu

It’s Groundhog Day for the Huskies. For the second consecutive year, the University of Connecticut saw its perfect season destroyed by an ice-cold overtime jumper in the Final Four of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. It’s officially a trend now.

This year, Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale had the honors, and she dispatched the Huskies after a frantic and fun game that required five additional minutes to sort itself out.

The last two tournament exits have been eerily similar for UConn. Compare Ogunbowale’s dagger to Morgan William’s winner for Mississippi State, a shot that ended the Huskies’ 111-game win streak in 2017.

Fittingly, William and Ogunbowale will face off against each other when Notre Dame plays Mississippi State in Sunday’s national championship tilt. Without UConn around to suffer a shocking loss, it truly will be anyone’s game.

Win or lose, Ogunbowale’s game-winner against the Huskies ensures her a place in Notre Dame history. But how does it rank on our official March Madness Buzzer Beater Scale? Let’s crank some advanced analytics.

Difficulty
Ogunbowale is in danger of hurting her score here because she made it look so easy. An absolute peach of a crossover gave her enough airspace to splash home from just inside the three-point line. The swish was so pure, it’s a wonder the net even moved at all. It was hero ball at its finest.

This was against a Connecticut team that looked cosmically ordained to win the title this year, which only ups the difficulty level. Before the game, winning was, at most, theoretically possible for Notre Dame, but Ogunbowale did what no one else has been able to do this season and slammed the coffin lid shut on the Huskies.

Difficulty rating: 5.8

Stakes
Stakes don’t get any higher than the Final Four! Well, except for the national championship game, which is where the Irish are headed. Still, against UConn, the stage is always a little grander.

The pressure is high in overtime, but, seeing as things were tied when Ogunbowale hit her shot, a miss would have just meant five more minutes of basketball. Or, you could look at it this way: a miss would have given UConn five more minutes to swarm and attack. It’s best to keep things simple and send them home as soon as possible.

Stakes rating: 5.5

Timing
Ogunbowale’s only error was leaving enough time on the clock to give the Huskies one last chance. The ball hit the bottom of the net with one second remaining, meaning it was not a true buzzer beater. Like Loyola-Chicago’s first-round game-winner against Miami in the men’s tournament, the score will reflect this unfortunate fact.

Timing rating: 3.0

Cinderella-ness
When a No. 1 seed beats another No. 1 seed, is it really an upset? It is when UConn is involved. Even though the Irish were the fifth-ranked team in the country going into the tournament, you’d have to bore through layers of geologic stratum to reach Notre Dame from Connecticut’s lofty position.

The Huskies are basketball robots. Thank you, Ogunbowale, for standing up to the machines.

Cinderella-ness rating: 5.5

Announcers’ call
This was Adam Amin’s first year calling the Final Four for ESPN, and he did not disappoint. He understood the drama, and when the time came to lose his marbles, he lost them with aplomb.

Announcers’ call rating: 5.7

Reaction
The Notre Dame players were so busy celebrating, they almost forgot to defend the in-bounds play, which nearly resulted in a game-tying bucket for the Huskies. In other words, it was a great reaction.

Reaction: 5.7

Total March Madness Buzzer Beater Score: 5.2

Ogunbowale’s effort earns the same score as Donte Ingram’s game-winner for Loyola-Chicago. Both are tied for second behind Jordan Poole’s Michigan moon shot against Houston in the second round of the men’s tournament.