By Mark F. Gray, Staff Writer, mgray@afro.com

Former Riverdale Baptist star Chloe Jackson made a shot for the ages and established her place in women’s college basketball history as the Baylor University defeated Notre Dame on April 7 in the 2019 National Championship game.

Jackson scored what proved to be the game winner on a drive to the basket that ended with a driving underhand scoop layup that dance around the rim before falling to become one of the great championship shots in women’s basketball history.  Her bucket gave the Lady Bears an 82-81 win over the defending champion Fighting Irish who were 3.9 seconds away from winning consecutive titles.

Former Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro) star Chloe Jackson made the winning for Baylor at the 2019 National Championship game on April 7. (Courtesy Photo)

Jackson was also named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player after scoring 26 points and passing out five assists while playing all 40 minutes.  She helped Baylor to its third national championship in school history despite playing with a shorthanded team that was hurt by an injury to one its key players. The Lady Bears played the last 11 minutes without star forward Lauren Cox, who injured her knee late in the third quarter.

Without Cox in the lineup Notre Dame rallied from an 18 point deficit which set the stage for Jackson’s heroics.  The Upper Marlboro native scored a season high, but it was only the third time all year where she scored 20 or more points. However, her calming influence on the floor is what kept Baylor stable as the Irish mounted their comeback.

“I had a dream, and that was it. I just had big goals, and I set out to accomplish it,” Jackson told ESPN afterwards.  “I couldn’t come this far and then go home without the victory.”

Jackson saved her best for last making two critical baskets that sealed the win for Baylor in the final game of her college career.  The layup at the end may have been irrelevant if the 2014 DC metro area player of the year hadn’t made a critical jumper to put the Lady Bears ahead 80-78 with 33.8 seconds remaining.  Notre Dame’s Jessica Shepard was then fouled and hit both her free throws which tied the game at 80.

The irony of Jackson’s shining moment in the women’s final four was that it turned out to be the same play that Baylor ran to beat Oregon in the national semifinal.  While struggling through a 3-for-11 six point performance she broke a tie with a layup that sent the Ducks home for the season to set the stage for the drama of the finals.

It was a long road to the for Jackson to the Final Four. She was {Washington Post}’s Girls Basketball Player of the Year and WBCA High School All-American honorable mention selection at Riverdale Baptist in her senior year averaging 17.3 points per game. Jackson was ranked 19th nationally as guard in the class of 2014, according to ESPN’s Hoopgurlz.

Jackson came to Baylor as a shooting guard from LSU, playing her final year as a grad student, while studying for her post graduate degree in divinity. However, she convert to the point and guided the country’s seventh-best scoring offense to 35 wins, a Big 12 title and its first Final Four appearance since 2012.

“To play guard at that level says a lot for her development at Riverdale Baptist,” NBC Sports Washington and Fox Sports analyst Christy Winters Scott told the AFRO.  “The mental makeup she presented and the confidence she displayed with her body language is why they won the game.  It was insanely good…sensational.”