WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Yes, Napheesa Collier has watched the tape from that March 30 night, not that the University of Connecticut women's basketball team's All-American needed a reminder of how her junior season ended.
Arike Ogunbowale's jump shot from just inside the 3-point line over Collier's outstretched arm found nothing but net with 1.0 second left in overtime and gave Notre Dame a 91-89 win over UConn in the NCAA Final Four semifinals at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
"I could have been up on her a little more," Collier said on Monday. "I was worried about her driving past me so I gave her too much space and she pulled up. If I could do it again, I would have been closer to her."
A year earlier at the Final Four in Dallas, Mississippi State's Morgan William hit a pull-up jumper over Gabby Williams at the overtime buzzer to end the Huskies' 111-game winning streak and four-year reign as national champion. After promising it would be different the next time, the heartbreaking conclusion was eerily the same.
"This year was worse than the previous year because it was the second time," Collier said. "Throughout the year we talked about how we never wanted that to happen again and we tried to work as hard as we could so it wouldn't. But it did. We competed a lot harder this year and than we did my sophomore year. That it was such a fight and we gave it our all and we still came up short was tough to take."
UConn trailed Notre Dame by 13 in the first quarter, led by 11 in the second quarter and eight in the fourth, then overcame five-point deficits in the final 20 seconds of regulation and 45 seconds of overtime.
But the Irish -- who led UConn by as many as 10 in the fourth quarter of the regular season matchup in Hartford before losing by nine -- had the final possession in overtime and Ogunbowale delivered to send UConn home for the second consecutive season at 36-1.
"It's a different feeling than from the year before," UConn senior All-American Katie Lou Samuelson said. "My sophomore year we played badly and we didn't deserve to win. This year we played as hard as we could and we had so many amazing chances and comebacks. Everything leading up to it made it sting more." Samuelson, as she did against Mississippi State a year earlier, played all 45 minutes. Kia Nurse did not get a break either. Collier (39), Williams (38), Crystal Dangerfield (30), and reserve Azura Stevens (28) got the remaining minutes. Both Hall of Fame coaches -- UConn's Geno Auriemma and Notre Dame's Muffet McGraw -- used only six players.
The only saving grace for Collier is that while William's game-winning shot was shown incessantly over the next season, ESPN will have something else to put on this coming season as Ogunbowale's magic didn't end with UConn. Her 3-point shot two nights later with 0.2 seconds to go gave the Irish a 61-58 win over Mississippi State and the program's second national championship.
In April, Collier and Ogunbowale were teammates at USA Basketball's 3x3 national championship tournament. The pair also teamed up in 2014 as they, along with Samuelson, won the gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games 3x3 competition in China.
"It hurt a little bit," Collier said. "But I like Arike. She made a tough shot."
While the Huskies spoke of being different last season, the lesson learned is that talk is cheap. "There is always that motivation, but I think this year it comes down to making actual changes and changing everyone's approach," Samuelson said. "We used that loss the year before and tried to say that we used it in whatever we did, but it was kind of like we just masked it a little bit. I feel like we never got down to the core issues ... Not issues, but things we could have done better. This year it's kind of like we have no choice or we are going to have the same outcome.
"I know from the outside us saying that we had a lot of problems is probably not what people think or expect to hear. When it comes down to us and what we think, we had enough problems to not win that last game. That's too many in my opinion. Us needing to figure out how to be at the end of the season is the most important part of each year. The last two years we weren't able to do that so clearly there are things that we need to fix as a group and individually. Each of us needed to figure out what we could have done better during the year. I think a lot of us have done a good job of looking at ourselves in the mirror and understanding what we did and what we could have done better. Personally, I just want to make sure that I'm held accountable at all times."
UConn will have two of the top players in the country back in Samuelson and Collier and one of the top point guards in Dangerfield. With three players from last season now WNBA rookies, opportunities for younger players to make an impact are available.
The Huskies wrap up their summer session together this week. They'll be back in Storrs in August ready to get started again to chase a 12th national championship.
"For me, last year was frustrating in a lot of different ways and the ending was worse, way worse," Dangerfield said. "There's no reason for what happened to happen. But things happen for a reason. Notre Dame was the better team that night. Now we're back as a new team and the goal will always be the same."