The NCAA Final Four is fast approaching with the women’s games taking place this Sunday, April 7.
After stunning Brittney Griner and the Baylor Bears, the Louisville Cardinals are hoping to carry the momentum into their game against the California Bears.
They can also draw on inspiration from their men’s basketball counterparts, who are playing in wake of a devastating injury to guard Kevin Ware in a win over Duke earlier this week.
The other game will feature a clash of the titans—Notre Dame (2) and Connecticut (3) will square off at 8 p.m. in New Orleans Arena.
Notre Dame senior Skylar Diggins will be looking to carry her team to the championship for the second straight year.
But let’s focus on a few under-the-radar players—the ones who tend to live in the shadows of the Griners and Diggins of NCAA Women’s basketball. Here is a look at three subtle stars who can potentially play a significant role in their teams’ games this Sunday.
A freshman guard, Jefferson had a fantastic game against the Kentucky Wildcats, pouring in 10 points on 5-for-7 shooting with a pair of rebounds, an assist and four steals.
According to ESPN’s Doris Burke:
[Jefferson] has now become a factor for the Connecticut Huskies. Her peskiness as an on-ball defender, her team speed, she adds to the athleticism and speed of [Connecticut’s] backcourt.
Look for her to continue to provide a spark off the bench for the Huskies on Sunday.
A junior from Erie, Pa., McBride has greatly benefited from playing with Notre Dame superstar senior Skylar Diggins. Together they create a formidable duo in Notre Dame’s backcourt. McBride is to Diggins what Pippen was to Jordan—not just a sidekick, but a leader in her own right.
A second-year starter, McBride had a great performance in the 87-76 win over Duke in the Elite Eight. After struggling with her shot in the first half, McBride had a strong performance, registering 13 points, four assists and seven rebounds.
If she gets off to a hot start against Connecticut on Sunday, expect her to be a force.
A sophomore guard from Massapequa, N.Y., Bria Smith had a fantastic game in Louisville’s upset over Baylor.
Backed by an incredibly efficient 5-for-7 shooting night (and 3-for-4 from the line), Smith dropped 13 points on the Bears while adding three assists and a team-leading seven boards.
If she can continue her consistent play, the Cardinals have a decent shot at advancing to the Championship Game.