Women's Basketball 2018 NCAA Tournament Championship Game Breakdown

Women’s Basketball National Championship Game Breakdown
Roshunda Johnson’s game-tying three-pointer with seven seconds left in regulation for Mississippi State was all the momentum they would need heading into overtime against Louisville. The Bulldogs put the hammer down in overtime as they outscored the Cardinals to pull away for a 73-63 win on Friday night in Columbus. Teaira McCowan was a warrior for Mississippi State, scoring 21 points and grabbing 25 rebounds while playing all 45 minutes. Victoria Vivians added 25 points as she got the best of Asia Durr of Louisville in a battle of two of the best guards in the game. This game was a back and forth battle and both teams were relentless defensively with neither team shooting over 40 percent.
One key turning point in the game was in the fourth quarter when Sam Fuehring was called for a technical foul for slapping the floor after getting called for a foul. Morgan William knocked down two free-throws and gave the Bulldogs a three-point lead at the time. Louisville did rally to take a 59-56 lead with 11 seconds but that technical foul on Fuehring and the decision to not foul on the game-tying three are going to linger into the offseason.
Arike Ogunbowale 18-footer with one second left in capped off an instant classic win for Notre Dame over Connecticut as the Fighting Irish beat the Huskies 91-89. Jackie Young was lights out for Notre Dame, scoring 32 points to lead the way offensively. It was a combination of attacking the basket when the opportunity was available and knocking down enough open shots against the Connecticut defense that was the difference in pulling off the minor upset. It was a minor upset because the Fighting Irish had the Huskies on the ropes during their regular season meeting but let Connecticut off the hook. Thus, credit head coach Muffet McGraw and her staff for keeping her team playing fearless as the way you beat a team like the Huskies is to take advantage of scoring opportunities and play fearless.
For Connecticut, as they move forward they will continue to be elite, but the question must be asked about playing in the American Athletic Conference and if its worth staying in it. The lack of close competitive conference games has come back to bite the Huskies for two straight years in the Final Four when they have run into more battle tested teams from Power Five conferences.
Looking ahead to Sunday and the National title game for Mississippi State and Notre Dame it will be interesting to see how both teams respond to playing overtime games on Friday night. The Bulldogs are a deeper team, which should help them against the Fighting Irish guards. On the other hand, Notre Dame can match up very well against the Mississippi State backcourt as Ogunbowale and Young challenge Vivians, Johnson, William, and Blair Schaefer. The frontcourt battle will be fascinating as Notre Dame really doesn’t have one person that can guard McCowan down in the post. So, will coach McGraw try and go zone and dare the Bulldog guards to beat her and let McCowan get her points? The other scenario that could unfold with the Fighting Irish just cranking up the pace of the game and try and neutralize McCowan creating turnovers and getting out in transition for easy baskets. Mississippi State should be better prepared to deal with the championship game stage after last year’s title game loss to South Carolina. I would expect head coach Vic Schaefer to try and pressure the Notre Dame guards all game long to wear them down by the second half. This should be a highly competitive game as these two teams are evenly matched minus Teaira McCowan. Which is why Bulldog fans will get to see a national championship come home to Starkville as the Fighting Irish won’t have enough to stop McCowan. Mississippi State wins a close one 75-68.