A Legacy to Remember…But It’s Not Over Yet

A Legacy to Remember...But It's Not Over Yet

If you live in the South Bend area, you most likely aren’t blind to the popularity of the Notre Dame women’s basketball team- even more so than the men’s team. In her 31 season of coaching, McGraw has coached the Irish to nine Final Four appearances and six NCAA Title Game appearances, along with two national titles.

Any long time fan, or even follower, of Notre Dame women’s basketball, knows all too well about the rivalry with the University of Connecticut. In years past, UConn always dominated the rivalry with Notre Dame. It seemed there was never an end, until Mississippi State snapped the Huskies’ impressive 111 game win streak in the 2017 national tournament. Although it was a long while before Notre Dame saw a victory again, that changed in the 2018 Final Four game. With the classic ND-UConn match-up, Notre Dame was tied with UConn, 89-89 in the overtime. With possession of the ball and after a quick inbound to Arike Ogunbowale, the final seconds on the shot clock forced Ogunbowale to throw up a prayer to the rim. As if heard by the basketball gods from every Notre Dame fan, the shot didn’t just go in- but it went in with a little splash. No Notre Dame fan will ever forget that game. We had finally defeated the University of Connecticut.

This year, the 2019 March Madness tournament was a different story. Although Notre Dame and UConn had been dominant powers on the women’s bracket for quite some time, teams such as Mississippi State, Stanford, South Carolina, and Baylor began making a name for themselves as well. This year, the bracket was a bit more difficult to fill out, as players such as Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu recorded the most career triple-doubles, 18, in a Division I sport for both men’s and women’s teams, carrying the program to the tournament and into the Final Four, and also Baylor’s All-American Kalani Brown. Despite these up and coming players, Notre Dame kept their cool, with Brianna Turner reaching 372 blocks- a program high; Marina Mabrey hitting 274 three-point shots; Jessica Shepard reaching the 2,000 career point milestone; Jackie Young receiving the ACC Tournament MVP, and Arike Ogunbowale finishing her college career as the Irish’s leading scorer.

Although the Irish fell short of a back-to-back national championship this year, losing to Baylor in the title game 82-81, the team did not stop there. All five starters announced they would be moving on to the WNBA draft, which happened Wednesday, April 10. Notre Dame became the first school ever to send all five of their starters to the draft, with Jackie Young going first overall to the Las Vegas Aces, Arike Ogunbowale going fifth to the Dallas Wings, Brianna Turner going eleventh to the Atlanta Dream yet was later traded to the Phoenix Mercury, Jessica Shepard to the Minnesota Lynx at sixteenth, and Marina Mabrey to the Los Angeles Sparks with the nineteenth overall pick in the draft.

With a great season wrapped up for the Irish, who went 35-4 this year, the entire city of South Bend is excited to see how these Irish will match up in the WNBA, and we are all curious to see what Coach McGraw has in store with a new list of starters next year.