The dream of playing in a second consecutive women's national championship game came true for Arbutus native Brittany Mallory, but reality set in midway through the second half when Mallory's Notre Dame squad fell way behind and lost to unbeaten Baylor, 80-61.
Baylor became the first unbeaten team in men's or women's history to reach 40 victories.
Mallory, who graduated in 2011, made the tough decision to return to Notre Dame (35-4) because she had a year of eligibility remaining (knee injury sophomore year), played her heart out until the end.
When the 2006 McDonogh graduate left with an injured shoulder, after diving for a ball with the Irish hopelessly behind late in the game, it appeared that her outstanding career was over.
But, she returned to the floor with 1:46 remaining so her coach, Muffet McGraw, could get one of her favorite players one last standing ovation from the Notre Dame faithful.
Not surprisingly, ESPN cameras were focused on Baylor standout Brittney Griner, who was the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player and finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots, when Mallory exited the game.
Mallory, a 5-foot-10 guard, left with three points, and tied for her team's high in rebounds (6) and steals (2) and she high-fived teammates on the sidelines.
She also added a pair of assists, including one to Skylar Diggins for the first Notre Dame basket of the game.
But, two days after being the hero, when she made a pair of three-pointers in overtime and had an outstanding all-around game (11 points, 5 assists, 4 steals) in a national semifinal victory over Connecticut, Mallory's career was over.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun