Natalie Achonwa knew something was wrong right away.
"I kind of felt it and I never felt something like that before," Achonwa explained Thursday about a season ending injury she suffered in the final minutes of Monday's Elite 8 win over Baylor.
Despite knowing she was not OK, Achonwa stayed strong on the court as she got up---delivering a passionate message to her team to finish off the victory and book Notre Dame's spot for the Final Four.
"it was just an adrenaline rush and I was just going with what emotions came to me," Achonwa says looking back. "At the moment, I just wanted to make sure they were still focused and that they knew our focus needed to be on those final few minutes of the game."
Achonwa went to the locker room---but after a few minutes emerged to cheer on her teammates.
"At first I really didn't feel anything--I was kind of numb," she explained. "I was just trying to get back in the gym to see what the outcome of the game was. And after that I was excited."
As Notre Dame celebrated, Achonwa raised the regional championship trophy, she had tears in her eyes for some moments, and a big smile when she cut down the nets. She retained remarkable composure during the postgame celebration and that's continued all week long. She's keeping it all in perspective.
"I don't feel sorry for myself--- so there's no reason for anyone else to feel sorry for me," she says. "At the end of day, I'm just blessed. I'm up, I can walk, I'm alive."
And she says she's still has a job to do--to lead her team.
"I'm going to a Final Four," Achonwa points out emphatically. "At the end of the day I might not be physically getting on the court and taking the jump ball but I'm going there because i'm going there to participate with my team and I believe in these other 12 ladies with my whole heart and soul and I'm excited to see what they can do."
Achonwa will eventually have surgery--but she hasn't figured any of that out yet. It's not the priority.
"We have a goal to win a national championship and that's what I'm focused on right now," she states.
The Irish players says they are continuing to feed off Achonwa's energy and leadership.
Freshman Taya Reimer will start in Achonwa's place Sunday night at 6:30 vs Maryland in the Final Four in Nashville.