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Mitchell Northam | | April 7, 2019

Four takeaways from Baylor's championship win over Notre Dame

Sights and sounds of Baylor's National Championship

With 16.1 seconds left, the ball was in the hands of Chloe Jackson.

The Baylor guard let the clock dwindle a bit, then charged into the paint. Her lay-up connected, giving Baylor a lead with 3.9 seconds left.

That was enough. Arike Ogunbowale was fouled and missed her first free throw. Notre Dame didn't have time to foul twice after she made her second.

The top of the women's basketball world belongs to the Lady Bears of Baylor University. For the first time since 2012, they are the champions of women's college basketball, after beating the Fighting Irish 82-81 in front of an announced crowd of 20,127 fans at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.

Jackson, who scored a season-high 26 points, was named the most outstanding player of the tournament.

Kim Mulkey's side led for the majority of the game. Dominating performances from senior Kalani Brown and Jackson, a graduate transfer, led Baylor as they denied Notre Dame the chance to take back-to-back crowns.

The win makes Mulkey a three-time champion, and puts her in the class of Geno Auriemma and the late Pat Summitt as the only head coaches in Division I women's college basketball with three or more titles.

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Strong start for Baylor

The Lady Bears came out clicking on both ends of the floor in the first quarter, getting out to a 13-3 lead after the jump ball. The run was highlighted by five points and two rebounds from Juicy Landrum. The quarter ended with Baylor on top by 11 points.

Jackson was strong in the opening period too. She didn't miss a shot on her way to scoring 10 points and dishing out two assists.

Meanwhile, Notre Dame struggled, missing 12 of its first 13 shot attempts from the floor. For the first half, the Irish shot just 27.5 percent from the floor. 

Heading into the fourth quarter, Notre Dame trailed by 11 points. The Irish would fall behind by as many as 17 points before briefly taking a one-point lead in the fourth quarter.

No answer for Kalani Brown

After dealing with a cramp issue in the first quarter, Kalani Brown entered the game with force in the second quarter, scoring Baylor's first six points of the period. She ended the quarter with 10 points and five rebounds.

For much of the night, it seemed like Notre Dame didn't have an answer for the 6-foot-7 senior. The Irish tried double teams, they tried fouling her, they tried forcing her out of the paint. Nothing worked.

In her final game in a Baylor uniform, Brown tallied 20 points, 13 rebounds, two blocks and an assist. She led the way as Baylor outscored Notre Dame 54-24 in the paint.

SECRET WEAPON: How Baylor's DiDi Richards shut down Sabrina Ionescu

Team effort

Jackson scored 26 points in the final game of her collegiate career, which is the most she's piled up in a single game this season. She also added five assists and two rebounds, while turning the ball over just once. After transferring twice, from N.C. State and LSU, the Upper Marlboro, Maryland native is a champion.

Landrum added eight points, three rebounds and six assists, and DiDi Richards notched six points and six assists.

Lauren Cox, Brown's post companion in the paint, exited the game late in the third quarter in a wheelchair with an apparent leg injury. Before leaving, she had stacked up eight points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two assists in 28 minutes.

Replacing her was freshman Nalyssa Smith, who tallied 14 points, six rebounds and a block in 17 minutes of relief.

NATIONAL STATS: Individual and team leaders in the 2018-19 season

Mabrey makes a last stand

Notre Dame senior Marina Mabrey saved her best for the fourth quarter. In the span of four minutes, she dished out four assists and connected on a trio of three-pointers, the third tying the game at 74-74 with about five minutes to play in the half. 

Mabrey finished the game with 21 points, three rebounds and three assists. However, her play — and 31 points from Arike Ogunbowale — weren't enough to take down Baylor.

HISTORY: Longest NCAA tournament appearance streaks in women's college basketball

Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.

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