Notre Dame and Fairmont High School graduate Kathryn Westbeld defeated Mississippi State 61-58 on a last-second shot to win the NCAA women’s basketball national championship on Sunday night.
Trailing by 15 points in the second half at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Arike Ogunbowale’s 3-pointer with 0.1 left was the game winner. There was a do-over celebration after the teams were called back to the court when it was ruled MSU had time to in-bound the ball. They did that, time ran out before a shot was taken and Notre Dame fans rushed the court.
Westbeld, a 6-2 senior from Fairmont, had six points and a team-high nine rebounds for the Irish in the nationally televised (ESPN) contest. She has been a four-season fixture in the Irish lineup and has surpassed 1,000 career points. She also was a key presence in Fairmont’s run to the Division I state championship in 2013 .
Jessica Shepard had 19 points to lead Notre Dame and Ogunbowale 18.
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Ogunbowale’s deep jumper from the wing in the final seconds also was the difference in Notre Dame’s 91-89 defeat of previously unbeaten Connecticut on Friday final four semifinal.
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It was the second national championship for Notre Dame (35-3), which also won in 2001. The Irish were national runner-ups in 2011, ’12, ’14 and ’15, when Westbeld was a freshman.
Mississippi State (37-2) was led by Victoria Vivians’ 21 points.
The men’s national championship will be determined between Michigan (33-7) and Villanova (35-4) at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas at 9:20 p.m. Monday (TBS).
On the Wolverines roster is senior graduate and Alter High School grad Jaaron Simmons. He played as a freshman at Houston, when spent two-record setting seasons at Ohio University. He joined Michigan this season as a graduate transfer.