The Fighting Irish trailed by as many as nine points late in the fourth quarter of Friday's Final Four clash.
History repeated itself on Friday night as No. 1 Notre Dame deprived No. 2 UConn of a trip to the women's national title game for the second straight year. The Fighting Irish secured an 81–76 win over Geno Auriemma's crew in a close contest in the semifinals to advance to Sunday's championship.
The Huskies led 30–29 at the half after Christyn Williams made a jumper on an assist from senior Katie Lou Samuelson with three seconds remaining before the break.
The two teams exchanged blows throughout the second half before UConn extended its lead to as many as nine in the final quarter of play. Forward Brianna Turner and last year's NCAA tournament hero Arike Ogunbowale led the Irish on a late-game comeback. Turner finished with a double-double of 15 points and as many rebounds, as well as five blocks. Ogunbowale notched a team-high 23 to go with six boards.
Notre Dame chipped away at the Huskies' late-game lead and a three-point jumper from senior guard Marina Mabrey tied the game at 66 with four minutes on the clock. Ogunbowale nabbed a steal on the next play and took it across the court for a score to give the Fighting Irish the lead once again.
With just 90 seconds to play, the game was within one. A pair of late free throws by Ogunbowale gave the Irish three points of breathing room around the one-minute mark, which she extended to five with another trip to the line less than 30 seconds later. Turner took two trips to the line of her own, sinking three of four foul throws to seal the win for Notre Dame.
Senior forward Jessica Shepard added her own double double for the Irish with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while adding seven assists, as did Mabrey, who finished with 12 points and as many assists.
Samuelson led the way for the Huskies with 20 points. Williams followed with 19, while Napheesa Collier added 15 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks in the loss.
The Fighting Irish will face No. 1 Baylor in the championship game on Sunday, April 7. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m. ET.