Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale thanking God as women's basketball postseason begins

Last season, Notre Dame junior Arike Ogunbowale hit the game-winning shot that won the 2018 NCAA Women’s National Championship over Mississippi State. Now a senior and the school’s all-time leading scorer, Ogunbowale enters the 2019 ACC Tournament this week with sights set on getting Notre Dame to its seventh Final Four in the past nine years.

Ogunbowale has led the Fighting Irish to 21-3 record this season, averaging 21.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists a game, and the team currently sits fourth in both the AP and Coaches Polls, putting it on pace to secure a No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. It was during the tournament last year that Ogunbowale entered tournament history by drilling the championship winner, as well as the overtime shot that finished off perennial powerhouse UConn in the semifinals.

While it’s easy to remember her last-second tournament heroics, Ogunbowale actually struggled in Notre Dame’s final two games, missing two free throws that could have closed out the win over UConn, and shooting 5-for-20 in the championship. Ogunbowale credited her teammates, and God, for never giving up on her.

“If I got an open look, my teammates wanted me to shoot it,” Ogunbowale wrote for AthletesForGod.com. “No matter how poorly I had played, no matter how out of rhythm I was, my teammates had the confidence in me to shoot the ball. I think it’s similar to the approach God has … no matter what happened before, it’s never too late to turn things around.”

Ogunbowale’s Christian faith has been central to her life for years. Both Ogunbowale’s mother and father encouraged her faith from an early age, and she credits them and her brother for being examples of what a committed Christian life looks like.

“Even at that age,” Ogunbowale wrote, “I loved the verse Jeremiah 29:11, which says, ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans for you to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

This belief in God’s plan for her life keeps Ogunbowale grounded during the inevitable ebbs and flows of success that come with being an athlete.

“I think it would be easy to get down [when things aren’t going well], but being a Christian helps keep your life in perspective. I try not to get too high or too low, because I know that one game or one shot wasn’t going to define me as a person,” she wrote.

Ogunbowale and Notre Dame tip off in the ACC Tournament on Friday as the league’s top seed.

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