Over the past few years, women’s college basketball has lost viewers.
The biggest reason for all the neglect the sport is receiving is the UConn Huskies.
During Head Coach Geno Auriemma’s tenure, UConn has been so dominant many people think it’s a forgone conclusion the Huskies will win every year and don’t even bother watching.
However, women’s college basketball is headed in the right direction after this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Considered by many to be the most exciting tournament in the history of the sport, the 2018 tournament did not fail to bring exposure to a sport that desperately needed it.
The fireworks didn’t really start until the Final Four, but once they started, it was quite the show.
In the first national semifinal, Louisville took on Mississippi State in a battle of No. 1 seeds.
The game was tight the entire way through and ended up heading to overtime.
Mississippi pulled away in the overtime period and punched their ticket to the national championship.
Their opponent would be the winner of the second national semifinal.
In this matchup, UConn, which went 32-0 in the regular season, would take on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, again in a battle of No. 1 seeds.
Throughout, this game was not as close as the first semifinal.
Notre Dame jumped out to an early 10-point lead after the first quarter, only to see UConn come storming back in the second, outscoring the Irish by 17 points in the quarter.
The rest of the game was tight, and after a missed field goal attempt at the end of the fourth quarter by the Huskies, fans got to see their second overtime of the night.
Overtime was just as exciting as the second half of the game, as both teams traded baskets during the period.
With just under 30 seconds left, UConn drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 89.
Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale came down and held the ball for the last shot. She took it as time expired and buried the shot to knock off the Huskies and punch Notre Dame’s ticket to the finals.
Just like the semifinals, the National Championship was just as exciting.
Mississippi State jumped out to a huge lead in the first half, as they took a 13-point lead into halftime.
But Notre Dame came storming back in the second half, to make it a close game in the fourth quarter.
With 2 minutes left, Mississippi State found themselves up by five, but Notre Dame climbed back into it with a 5-0 run to tie the game up with 45 seconds left.
After a Mississippi State miss on the offensive end, Notre Dame found themselves in a similar situation as they did in the semis – a tied game and the last shot.
The Irish again gave the ball to Ogunbowale and she played the role of heroine again. She buried a 3-pointer as time expired to win the National Championship and give Notre Dame its second title in the school’s history.
This is the exactly what women’s college basketball needed.
All the excitement created quite the buzz around the sport and got it the exposure and attention that it need to get back on the map.
Sure, the sport isn’t where it needs to be, but it is definitely headed in the right direction.
It is still UConn’s league to win, but other teams are catching up and starting to compete.
Yes, it took two miraculous buzzer beaters to knock off UConn in back-to-back years, but parity within the league is being established.