USA - K-Mac gets her due
HARTFORD (NCAA Women) - All eyes in women's basketball are on the American college game right now.
Current and future national team players are getting ready for the NCAA Tournament, and one side worth watching is Notre Dame.
Natalie Achonwa and Skylar Diggins are both in the line-up of the Fighting Irish and each came up with big plays on Tuesday night as their team beat the University of Connecticut, 61-59, in the Final of the Big East Championship.
Diggins stole a pass with 10 seconds remaining, dribbled up the floor and passed to a wide-open Achonwa who banked in the winning shot.
A less heralded but equally important member of the team who is likely to find her way into the American squad in the years ahead, Kayla McBride, was the tournament’s most outstanding player.
The third-year guard had 23 points in the win over UConn.
"She should be an All-American," Diggins said.
"She was definitely the player of the game."
'K-Mac', like Diggins, is already in the USA set-up.
The 1.81m McBride averaged 8.3 points in 2010 and helped the United States win the gold medal at the 2010 FIBA U18 Americas Championship for Women.
McBride is powerful and athletic, and gets points with jump shots or on drives to the bucket.
She passes well and is a also terrific defender.
McBride has had good examples to follow.
While looking up at the competitive Diggins during her Notre Dame career, McBride drew inspiration from Michael Jordan while growing up.
"I remember I had this DVD, special edition of all his highlights and I would literally play it over and over again," she said in an interview earlier this year.
"I love the fire and competitive attitude (he had)."
Brittney Griner, meanwhile, is putting an exclamation mark on her brilliant career with the Baylor Lady Bears.
The senior center led the defending NCAA champions to a third straight Big 12 title.
Griner had 31 points, eight rebounds and five blocks in a 75-47 win over Iowa State, who went into the game ranked 23rd in the nation.
"Winning never gets old, especially this one," Griner said.
After this season, Griner is expected to be the number one pick in the WNBA Draft.
In The Pac-12, Chiney Ogwumike celebrated a tournament championship with the Stanford Cardinal despite scoring just three points in their 51-49 win over UCLA.
Amber Orrange picked up the slack by pouring in 20 points.
Ogwumike and Griner are good bets to play for the United States in the years to come.
Tolu Omotola, who recently spoke to FIBA.com about her hopes of representing Nigeria in international competition, had 16 points and eight rebounds to fire Liberty past Longwood, 54-45, in the Big South title game on Sunday.
That success punched the Lady Flames’ ticket to the NCAA Tournament.
After playing for her country at the Olympics, Fagbenle was named Rookie of the Week a record 10 times, and was also Player of the Week twice.
The Crimson have clinched a spot in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.