After hitting a game-winning shot Friday to beat Connecticut in the women’s NCAA tournament national semifinals, Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale said her “life” was “complete” because she got a congratulatory tweet from Kobe Bryant. However, he quickly let her know that was not the case, and that nothing would be complete without her “finishing the job on Sunday” in the national championship game against Mississippi State.
Not only did Ogunbowale finish the job, she did so with an another remarkable, last-second jumper to help her Fighting Irish stun the Bulldogs and win it all. And, yes, that earned a “life complete” nod from Bryant.
The former Lakers great, who was in attendance for Friday’s semifinals, also gave Ogunbowale a “WOW” on social media. Two of them, in fact, in a richly deserved acknowledgment of the heroics from the junior guard, who in turn told ESPN that her clutch performances came from employing Bryant’s “Mamba mentality.”
As a celebration erupted Sunday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, Ogunbowale was asked by ESPN’s Holly Rowe what she had “to say to Kobe now,” after clinching the title. “It’s over; the job is over,” Ogunbowale said with a broad smile, as she and teammate Marina Mabrey each gave an enthusiastic “shout-out” to Bryant.
After Ogunbowale first claimed to be channeling the “Mamba mentality,” following her game-winner Friday against the Huskies, Bryant replied on Twitter that his was a pro-Connecticut family but that “we love seeing great players making great plays.”
Bryant had been wearing U-Conn. gear Friday but was clearly happy to give the Notre Dame star her due.
Some current NBA players, including the Heat’s Dwyane Wade and the Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan, also took to Twitter on Sunday to praise Ogunbowale.
Of course, Ogunbowale didn’t need approval from Bryant, or anyone else, to feel that she had accomplished something truly special. However, any basketball player at any level would be delighted to get singled out for praise from the “Black Mamba,” all the more so after rising to the challenge in a way that will be remembered for years to come.
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