A final moment shouldn’t overshadow a glorious game, career.
TAMPA, FLORIDA – With the game on the line, Arike Ogunbowale was called (and by most standards) delivered. She scored a game-leading 31 points and became the second-highest scorer in an NCAA Women’s Championship Game. The record is held by Naismith Hall of Fame inductee Sheryl Swoopes (47 points, 1993).
More from High Post Hoops
- Bet $5 on Sparks vs. Sky, Win $150 Instantly with Limited-Time DraftKings Promo
- Cash in for Over $2,000 With WNBA Promo Bonuses from FanDuel & Caesars
- FanDuel WNBA Promo Code Gives You $2,500 Bonus for ANY Game Tonight!
- Unlock $200 GUARANTEED With Crazy DraftKings WNBA Promo
- Unlock Over $4,500 Bonus With 3 Best WNBA Sportsbook Promos!
However, neither her 31 points nor a line in the record books was much consolation — at least not right now. “Um, that’s a good accomplishment,” the Milwaukee native told High Post Hoops in a somber Notre Dame locker room after a 82-81 loss in the final. “I would have rather gotten the win, but you know, that’s pretty cool.”
Records are hard to appreciate after a heartbreaking loss, especially in the way this one ended for Ogunbowale.
Just one year ago, she sank not one, but two buzzer-beating shots to win Notre Dame’s second national title. Now, she needed to bury both shots from the free throw line to tie the game.
Ogunbowale approached the charity stripe for her first attempt. The 80% free throw shooter held her follow through as she watched the ball hit the back rim, dance for a short time, and fall off the rim. She sank into her squat in disbelief before preparing to try and miss her next shot.
Two dribbles. Back rim and in. No rebound. Baylor ball.
Soon after, game over.
The teams shook hands and the Lady Bears surrounded their injured teammate Lauren Cox in jubilation while the tears started to fall for Ogunbowale and the Fighting Irish.
By the post-game press conference, Ogunbowale was quiet, but composed alongside her Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw and Brianna Turner. She settled into her seat and answered questions tossed to her with brevity.
When asked about finding her family in the tunnel, she said, “Yeah, I mean, it’s my family, you know, the closest people to me, and, you know, their supporters everything. So I was glad I was able to see them before I got a locker room.”
Her answer was straight to the point and did not betray her emotions. She was asked about those too, to which she responded, “I mean, it’s sad, you know, especially it being my last career [college game], you know. You can’t come back next year and say you’re going to win it again because it’s done for me. So that’s tough. I’m really just gonna miss playing with these girls.”
The agony captured by the cameras is gone, though a brief moment at the dais betrayed it, when she rested her head against the microphone between answers.
Ogunbowale is tough. It’s not hard to imagine there are multiple waves of emotion flowing through her mind. But, she remained in control. Not even the glaze of a tear was present in her eyes. Her fatigue set in when asked about what her process might look like between now and the 2019 WNBA Draft in New York City.
“There’s not a lot of time, really. The draft is on Wednesday. So, I guess I’ll figure it out when I get to South Bend, I’m not really sure yet.” The media scrum began to thin and Arike’s voice became slightly softer as the last few questions are asked.
What does it feel to have worn the Notre Dame uniform? What will the legacy of you, Marina, and Brianna be?
Finally, High Post Hoops asked if there is more the Notre Dame team could have done to win tonight. Before the question is completed, she states firmly:
"“Definitely a lot, you know, that we could have done. Like I said, we shouldn’t even be in that position, you know, that we gotta win on, you know, something like that. But they’re a great team, so credit to them, you know. They scouted us well. They stopped a lot. You know, they’re aggressive. So, there’s definitely a lot we could have done though, to try to avoid what happened.”"
While it is unclear how long her program records — all-time leading scorer, single season record for most 20-point scoring games, a program record six 30-point scoring games, many others — will last, Arike Ogunbowale has made an indelible mark on the University of Notre Dame and women’s college basketball. She will not be defined by Sunday night.
On Wednesday, we get to witness the first step in her next journey, at the WNBA Draft.
Love our 24/7 women’s basketball coverage? Join our Patreon now and support this work, while getting extra goodies and subscriber-only content for yourself.