Our picks for the top five women’s college basketball buzzer beaters. All five were delivered by players who either competed in the Elite Eight, the Final Four or the championship game.
5. Jeanette Pohlen, Stanford (March 29, 2010)
Tied at 53 in the waning seconds of an Elite Eight matchup, Stanford had everything go its way. Xavier missed on two potential game-winning layups. The Cardinal got a rebound on the last and called timeout. After receiving the inbounds pass, Pohlen had four seconds to go coast-to-coast. She did just that, zig-zagging through defenders before hitting a layup as the horn sounded to lift Stanford to a 55-53 victory and its third straight Final Four.
4. Morgan William, Mississippi State (March 31, 2017)
In an epic Final Four contest, Mississippi State had the ball in the final five seconds with the score tied in overtime against UConn. William took her place in Bulldogs basketball lore by driving to the basket, pulling up just around the free throw line and releasing her shot with about a second left. Swish. The clock-beating jumper in the 66-64 victory was historical in many ways. Mississippi State advanced to its first ever title game, ending the Huskies’ record 111-game win streak.
3. Charlotte Smith, North Carolina (April 3, 1994)
Until last season, Smith’s shot was widely considered the most iconic moment in the women’s tournament. Trailing Louisiana Tech by two points, Smith drained a wipe-open 3-pointer as time expired for a 60-59 victory in the title game. She also set a record with 23 rebounds in the final. In 2015, Smith was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. She currently is the head coach at Elon and had led the program to NCAA tournament appearances in two of the past three seasons.
2. Arike Ogunbowale, Notre Dame (March 30, 2018)
The plan was for Ogunbowale to drive to the basket in the final seconds of overtime against Connecticut. That did not work. Too many roadblocks. So Ogunbowale stepped back and fired away. Her pull-up jumper sailed just over the outstretched arm of a Husky defender and went in with a second remaining. Game over. The Fighting Irish beat undefeated UConn 91-89 in the semifinals of the Final Four. Ogunbowale bounced up and down in excitement. It was a shot for the ages, one that cannot be duplicated. Unless. ...
1. Arike Ogunbowale, Notre Dame (April 1, 2018)
She did it again. Two nights after sinking an improbable game-winning shot, Ogunbowale hit another. This one was more dramatic, more difficult and more meaningful. Locked in a tied championship game against Mississippi State, Ogunbowale dribbled to the corner with the clock dwindling. There was no time to set her feet. Off-balance and blanketed by a Bulldog, Ogunbowale released the ball with two hands. It went in. Again. The Fighting Irish won 61-58. Two games. Two miracle shots. One national title. By twice delivering in the clutch, Ogunbowale became an instant celebratory. She was on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, where former Lakers star Kobe Bryant made a guest appearance. She was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. The fanfare has somewhat faded. Ogunbowale is not recognized as often. But she still has star status on the court. This season, Ogunbowale became Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer and has helped the Fighting Irish return to the Final Four.
Notre Dame faces Connecticut in a rematch of last year’s semifinal. The game could down to the final shot. If that happens, Ogunbowale is confident taking it.
She already knows she can make one.
After all, she’s done it twice.
Women’s Final Four
Amalie Arena, Tampa
Friday: Baylor vs. Oregon, 7 and Notre Dame vs. UConn, 9:30 TV: ESPN2
Sunday: final, 6 TV: ESPN
More info/tickets: Single-session tickets are available through the NCAA’s official site; prices vary. Visit ncaa.com/womens-final-four
• The Tampa Convention Center will host Tourney Town, a free festival with contests, games, autographs and clinics April Friday-Sunday. The event includes Beyond the Baseline, which features opportunities for networking and professional development.
• The plaza outside Amalie Arena will host a free party with live music, food and games before the games (4-6:30 on Friday and 3-5:30 on Sunday).
• Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park will have a free celebration of basketball with fireworks and live music from 6-11 p.m. on Saturday.
• The Women’s Final Four Bounce is a dribbling parade for children 18 and younger. It starts at 1 p.m. on Sunday at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.