Arike Ogunbowale !
She will be forever the answer to a trivia question. That’s right. You better learn to pronounce her name because she will not soon be forgotten.
Anyone who has played the game of basketball has spent endless hours on the court – whether it’s in the driveway, a barn, on the playground or in a gymnasium – practicing hitting the game winning shot. Either in your mind or yelling it out loud, we have all said “for the win” or “good if it goes” thousands of times. And how many of those shots actually went in? Probably not very many. When it did though, we pranced around like we had just saved the world.
I played enough basketball that I practiced those shots. I can only remember one opportunity to hit one though. Alas, it did not go in.
To practice them is one thing. To get the opportunity to take one in real game action is another. To hit that game winner is very rare indeed. So what Arike Ogunbowale did on Friday night and then AGAIN last evening is just absolutely incredible. On the biggest stage – the NCAA Women’s Final Four – she hit the game winner for the national championship! And this was after she did the same thing in the semifinals to upset undefeated UConn.
On Friday night she hit a step back three pointer with one second left in overtime sending Notre Dame to the championship game. Last night she fulfilled every hoopster’s dream by hitting another game winning three pointer – this time with .1 second left. The last shot was an off balance (some would call desperation) under pressure heave that caught nothing but net. Just like the way you practice it!
It was a classic game with the Fighting Irish trailing by as many as 15 points. They scrapped back though and when that final shot dropped, the celebration began. I’m sure it was disheartening for Mississippi State fans. I’m also sure that some of them are blaming coach Vic Schaefer for the defeat. The Bulldogs had a foul to give, but did not use it. In fact Schaefer seemed to blame himself at the post game press conference.
I wouldn’t go that far myself. I’ve seen strategies backfire. I’d prefer to just chalk this game up to a great game with a clutch shot giving all basketball fans something to talk about for a long time.
The view from my seat suggests that this Final Four had to be the greatest ever. Overtime games in both semifinals with a game winner to end things. It was fantastic. And her name is Arike Ogunbowale!