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March 20, 2014

WOMEN’S NCAA TOURNAMENT: Six players to watch in the tournament

Schimmel hopes to lead Cards to back-to-back Final Fours

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Every coach in the NCAA tournament knows who they want to have the ball with the game on the line.

If UConn ever is in a tight game, there is no doubt Breanna Stewart would be who coach Geno Auriemma would look to for the Huskies. Chiney Ogwumike has done pretty much everything for Stanford in her career and she’d be the one for the Cardinal.

Maybe it’s not the shot that would be needed.

Alyssa Thomas of Maryland could take the shot, but also could make the pass that leads to the winning basket — she does have four triple-doubles this season. Baylor point guard Odyssey Sims has stepped up her scoring and hit nearly every big shot that the Lady Bears have needed.

Here are six others players that could be called upon at crunch time in the NCAA tournament:

• SHONI SCHIMMEL: The Louisville senior guard made a name for herself in last season’s NCAA tournament helping Louisville pull off the monumental upset of Baylor in the regional semifinals. Now in her final season, Schimmel hopes to guide the Cardinals back to the national championship game. Despite playing at home, it won’t be an easy road for the three seed, having to potentially play West Virginia and top-seed Tennessee if they can make it back to Louisville.

• MAGGIE LUCAS: Penn State’s sharpshooting senior averaged 21.5 points this season. If the Lady Lions have a lead late in the game the ball will definitely be in her hand. She’s basically automatic from the free throw line shooting over 95 percent this season. How rare is that combo, well she’s the only player in NCAA women’s history to score more than 20 points a game and shoot better than 95 percent from the line.

• KAYLA MCBRIDE: Notre Dame’s senior leader has really emerged this season for the unbeaten Irish. She’s saved her best play for the biggest stage. In games against Duke, Tennessee, and Maryland, McBride is averaging 24.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists and shooting 53 percent from the field. Not too shabby. It’s no wonder that WNBA scouts expect her to go high in the draft this April.

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