Arike Ogunbowale was on Sunday night the star as she propelled Notre Dame to deliver the 2018 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball title with a 61-58 victory over Mississippi State.
Ogunbowale’s a late rescuing jump shot, with 0.1 seconds left, crowned Notre Dame their first women’s NCAA championship since 2001 and only the second in history.
After hitting a game-winning shot on Friday to beat Connecticut in the tournament’s national semi-finals, her winning shot on Sunday night was described as “the greatest last-second shot in championship game history”.
“To do that twice in one weekend, the biggest stage in college basketball, it’s crazy,” Ogunbowale admitted.
The Nigerian-born now has two of reported four biggest shots in the women’s basketball history.
Ogunbowale, who scored 27 points in Friday’s epic semi-final win over the Huskies, earned most outstanding player honours for the tournament.
Scoring 14 of her 18 points in the second half, she said: “It just felt right. I practised late-game all the time. I just ran to Jackie (Young) and said, `Throw it to me, throw it to me’.
“I practise this all the time. It’s everyone’s dream to get a game-winning shot. So, you practise this in the gym when you’re by yourself. So, I was prepared for this moment.”
Ogunbowale’s father, Gregory, is from Nigeria, where he played football and rugby while her mother, Yolanda, is an American-born teacher who was a softball pitcher.
Meanwhile, Udoka Azubuike’s Kansas lost to Villanova 95-79 in the NCAA Men semi-finals.
In a first half the Villanova Wildcats dominated, Kansas Jayhawks sophomore centre Azubuike still managed to provide a memorable highlight during the Final Four clash.
With Kansas trailing 34-20, Azubuike threw down a thunderous dunk over Villanova forward Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree to cut the deficit to 12 just six minutes ahead of half-time.
Azubuike, who is Kansas 280-pound power centre, finished the first half with four points on 2-of-4 shooting to go along with three rebounds.
His mother Florence traveled from Delta in Nigeria to see her son for the first time play in front of 70,000 people.
It was her first since Azubuike left to play basketball in the U.S. after his secondary school education.