Here are our game changers from Sunday’s and Monday’s NCAA Tournament games.
The second round is now complete, and here are eight players who had noteworthy performances this past Sunday and Monday:
Bethany Doolitte, Sr., Iowa
In the Hawkeyes’ 88-70 win over the Miami Hurricanes on Sunday, Doolittle led all scorers with 22 points. But she also had an all around impact on the game where she grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked three shots,and stole the ball twice. It’s safe to say that her presence contributed to Iowa’s positive rebounding differential, and made things tough for Miami all around.
Azurá Stevens, Fr., Duke
Stevens played all 40 minutes in the Blue Devils’ 64-56 win over Mississippi State, where she scored 22 points on 9 of 13 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. Meanwhile for the Bulldogs, no starter shot above 50% from the field. She also was a big help in the game where frontcourt mate Amber Henson was scoreless.
Ally Mallott, Sr., Dayton
Mallott scored 28 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the Flyers’ 99-94 win over Kentucky on Sunday. In addition, she also made three of four three point shots in a game where the Flyers were having a field day from beyond the arc.
Laurin Mincy, Sr., Maryland
Mincy scored 27 points on 9 of 11 shooting which included 6 three point shots out of 7 attempts in the Terps’ 85-70 win over Princeton on Monday. She also dished 7 assists. While Lexie Brown and Brionna Jones also made big contributions, I felt Mincy was the one who made the Terps go in their second round win.
Bashaara Graves, Jr., Tennessee
The Lady Vols forward scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, including 10 on the offensive end in a 77-67 win over Pittsburgh on Monday. Given that Tennessee lost the field goal percentage battle in this game, there’s no doubt that the offensive rebounds Graves had were the key to make this win possible.
Amber Orrange, Sr., Stanford
The senior guard led the Cardinal to an 86-76 win over Oklahoma on Monday with 24 points on 11 of 18 shooting. She also grabbed 7 rebounds, dished 3 assists, and stole the ball twice in a strong all-around performance to keep Stanford’s streak of Sweet 16 appearances alive and well.
Stephanie Mavunga, So., North Carolina
Jamie Cherry scored the Tar Heels’ game winning shot vs. Ohio State on Monday, but Mavunga provided consistency by scoring 27 points, grabbing 4 rebounds, and blocking 4 shots in the game. Her shooting efficiency was also on point as she shot 13 of 18 from the field.
Ameryst Alston, Jr., Ohio State
Alston’s team may have lost to North Carolina, but she scored 17 of her 30 points in the second half to get the Buckeyes in position to get to their first Sweet 16 since the 2010-11 season when there was another well-known backcourt there — namely Samantha Prahalis and Tayler Hill, who have been known for not meeting expectations as pros, albeit for different reasons.
This year, the Buckeyes have another great backcourt with Alston and Kelsey Mitchell, who also had a great game, but her numbers just didn’t surpass Alston’s in these two games. Given how they played this year in the Big Dance, there’s definitely a lot to be excited about Ohio State basketball for 2015-16 when both return.