Notre Dame women unveil national championship banner

Anthony Anderson
ND Insider Correspondent

SOUTH BEND — With necks anxiously arched throughout Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame unfurled its 2018 women’s basketball national title banner Monday night during a short, but sweet ceremony in front of a near-capacity crowd.

The pre-national anthem event before ND’s game against Penn took a mere two minutes.

It started with a smattering of video highlights from last season on the center-court scoreboard.

Stoked fans reacted almost as if they were seeing Arike Ogunbowale’s two game-winning shots in the Final Four for the first time.

Irish players looked up with smiles of their own, making sure the shots would go in yet again.

As the banner then dropped, coach Muffet McGraw and players clapped — including most of those seated along the Quakers’ bench.

The unveiling didn’t necessarily inspire instant magic on the court for No. 1-ranked Notre Dame. The Irish came up empty on five of their first six possessions, including turnovers on three of their first four, and led just 16-13 after one quarter.

They extended their lead to 39-27 by halftime, but came away with a 75-55 win.

The white banner with gleaming gold and blue trim is identical in design to the one ND won in 2001.

It was unveiled on the home team’s end of the court, inside the perimeter where the banners typically reside. It’s expected to eventually move to along that outer string in the Purcell Pavilion.

None of the four Irish players from last season who wrapped up their college careers and are on to other endeavors — Kathryn Westbeld, Kristina Nelson, Lili Thompson and Mychal Johnson — were able to make it back for Monday’s event.

Notre Dame players watch a special presentation before the Notre Dame-Penn basketball game Monday night at Purcell Pavilion.
The 2018 NCAA national championship banner unveiled before Monday night's Notre Dame women's basketball game at Purcell Pavilion at Notre Dame.