TAMPA, FL — Baylor point guard Chloe Jackson led Baylor with 26 points, including the game clinching lay up, as Baylor beat Notre Dame 82 to 81 to win a National Championship.
Baylor played like a team possessed early. The Lady Bears hit 7 of their first 10 shots to take a 15-5 lead over Notre Dame.
Lauren Cox continued her dominant playoff run by establishing herself early with two big blocks to scare the Irish from the paint.
Kalani Brown spent much of the opening frame on the bench with cramps to her lower legs, but it didn’t stop the Lady Bears.
NaLyssa Smith added four points in her short stint filling in. Baylor went on to shoot more than 65 percent from the floor as the Lady Bears raced to a 25-14 lead.
The second quarter was all about senior star power. Chloe Jackson took control of the game for Baylor.
The senior transfer racked up eight points in just the first 5 minutes. That’s when Kalani Brown got involved.
Brown grabbed multiple offensive rebounds for put backs and then fought through double teams to draw fouls against the Irish front line.
Notre Dame would find their shooting touch, sparking a 9-0 run over Baylor, but the Lady Bears would put an end to it with more inside passing.
A Brown, Cox, and Smith front court started to overpower Notre Dame inside and break the game back open.
Baylor took a 43-31 lead into halftime.
The third quarter was the surge for Notre Dame. The Irish scored more in that frame than they did in the entire first half.
Arike Ogunbowale notched 10 points to lead her team back into the game, but everything on the court was overshadowed as Lauren Cox went down with a leg injure with just a couple minutes left in the third.
Cox looked like she injured her right leg before being carted off in a wheelchair by medical personnel. Baylor has not offered an update on her condition yet.
The Lady Bears went into the fourth quarter leading 60-52.
The loss of Cox put Baylor on the ropes. Marina Mabrey for the Irish led the charge, nailing three of four three point shots to bring Notre dame back to a 74-74 tie.
Freshman NaLyssa Smith was pressed into service by the Cox injury. she proceeded to go perfect from the floor in her appearance, notching 14 points for herself until she missed a shot and fouled out shortly.
The game remained tied until Chloe Jackson nailed a shot to put baylor up 80-78 with less than 30 seconds to play.
A pair of free throws tied the game back at 80, and with 16 seconds left Baylor had time to run one play.
Jackson would draw on her magic once again -- this time nailing another lay up to give Baylor their 2 point lead with three seconds left.
Notre Dame ran one last play with Ogunbowale, but the guard drew a foul. She hit one of two free throws to cut the lead to one, but it wasn't enough.
Jackson got the ball in bounds, ending the game and winning the title.