Baylor wins against Notre Dame in the NCAA Women's Championship: NPR



Lauren Cox (# 15) of the Baylor Bears fires on Brianna Turner (# 11) of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Amalie Arena on Sunday night in Tampa, Florida.

Ben Solomon / NCAA photos via Getty Images


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Ben Solomon / NCAA photos via Getty Images

Lauren Cox (# 15) of the Baylor Bears fires on Brianna Turner (# 11) of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Amalie Arena on Sunday night in Tampa, Florida.

Ben Solomon / NCAA photos via Getty Images

Baylor gave up a double-digit lead, but held her ground in the final minutes to win the NCAA women's title against defending champion Notre Dame by a single point on Sunday night in Tampa, Florida.

With the 82-81 victory, the Lady Bears won their third NCAA women's basketball championship, joining UConn and Tennessee as the only Division I programs with three or more titles. The last time Baylor won the title was in 2012 against the Irish who fought.

Baylor maintained a comfortable lead during the first half, before Notre Dame closed the gap to tie the game in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter.

With 3.9 seconds to play, point guard Chloe Jackson went past the Notre Dame defense to put Baylor ahead 82-80. Then, Notre Dame requested a timeout and entered the outstanding Arike Ogunbowale tournament. The Irish had the opportunity to change the game when Ogunbowale was fouled by a plate. But, luckily for the Lady Bears, Ogunbowale missed his first free throw in the remaining 1.9 seconds, leaving Baylor clinging to the 1-point lead.

Baylor achieved the final leg without star forward Lauren Cox, who injured his knee in the third quarter. Cox, who stood on the sidelines with crutches to celebrate with his teammates after the last whistle, told ESPN that she is not sure of the severity of her injury.

Cox, who contributed 8 points and 8 rebounds to Baylor's 62-50 lead before being removed from the court in a wheelchair, has remained a crucial player during Baylor's 37-1 season. His early exit in the final increased the bets for his teammates.

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"We had to do it by LC," Chloe Jackson, referring to Cox, told reporters after the game. "He got us here, we had to finish the job for her."

The victory made Baylor coach Kim Mulkey cry. "I'm excited for many reasons, but mainly for Lauren Cox, and I'm very happy," Mulkey said. "These are tears of joy, but they are also tears of thinking about injuries."

The NCAA reports its highest attendance in 15 years in the Women's Final Four and in the regional playoffs. That record fanfare was evidenced by the more than 20,000 fans who filled Tampa's Amalie Arena for the final game, reports reporter Bradley George of the WUSF member station.


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