Baylor outlasts Notre Dame to win national championship | Women's College Basketball Highlights

Arnold Nichols
April 9, 2019

Love our 24/7 women's basketball coverage? Voepel began covering women's basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

To get to the championship game, Notre Dame took out No. 2-seeded University of CT in the Final Four.

She immediately singled out Cox, who she called "the heart and soul of our team". "We did bring a national championship". Will the Irish go out with back-to-back titles or will Baylor win their first title in seven years? History matters to her, because she has been part of so much of it, and because she and Baylor continue to make it.

Perhaps the only emotion more powerful than the silent despair when Baylor's Lauren Cox injured her knee in the third quarter of the women's championship game was the joy when the Lady Bears survived a subsequent comeback from defending champion Notre Dame to take the title.

Baylor 82, Notre Dame 81.

Baylor put its stamp on the game right away, forcing a Notre Dame timeout just 3:46 into the game when Jackson canned a jumper for an 11-3 lead.

"Well, I trusted her", an emotionally drained Kim Mulkey said at the postgame presser, sitting at the podium. "I know we still have a long way to go". Bickle knew that Baylor wasn't going to lose a step while Smith was on the floor. Once the Bears won, she let it all out.

Cox is the leader on court, but Mulkey is the leader of the program. They are coming off a 72-67 win over OR in the Final Four.


Early in the fourth quarter it looked as though UConn was going to avenge its loss from a year ago as they built a nine-point lead with under eight minutes to play - matching their largest lead of the night.

There was no other player the Notre Dame women's basketball team would have wanted at the foul line Sunday night with its championship hopes at stake.

"They work so hard", one fan said.

And then came a series of heartbreaks. She potentially could have gone to the WNBA this year. "I get it. But I had to trust my kids".

In November 2017, Fuller lost her unborn child, Scout Marie. Makenzie played for Mulkey and is now on her mom's staff at Baylor. Watching her play is mesmerizing and terrifying at the same time.

"From the time, I left (Cox) on that floor to get to that huddle, I needed to regroup", Mulkey said. "It will be a little bit tougher now, but we've got to battle.' And we did". That was the last time the Irish saw the ball. I've seen the changes from playing, what the Final Fours were like when she was playing and I was watching.

But Baylor regrouped, as Chloe Jackson, who led Baylor with 26 points in her final collegiate game, hit what turned out to be the dagger with 3.9 seconds to go. For a few days in April, this was hoops central. Until about the last 20 seconds of each semifinal, it was impossible to predict which team would emerge victorious. How the Lady Bears got the No. 1 overall seed, and carried that straight through to a title.

"Guys, that wasn't a fluke out there", Mulkey said. "I've had those kind of teams a couple times". We just weren't good enough tonight to do it. "How many national championships has Muffet won?" But I do know that you absolutely DO NOT want to miss this.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER