by: Lorne Chan sastars.com
Alaina Coates (C – South Carolina)
Out of the NCAA Tournament because of an ankle injury, Coates finished her college career with 1,603 points, 1,230 rebounds and 210 blocks. She was named first-team All-SEC as a junior and senior.
South Carolina was able to advance to the Sweet 16 despite the injury, and the Gamecocks move on to face the Women’s Tournament’s Cinderella story in Quinnipiac, which is the lowest remaining seed and only mid-major left in the bracket.
Next game: No. 12 Quinnipiac (29-6) vs. No. 1 South Carolina (29-4), Stockton, Calif., 3 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2
Nina Davis (F – Baylor), Alexis Jones (G, Baylor)
Fresh off their seventh straight Big 12 championship, Baylor steamrolled opponents in its first two tournament games, beating No. 16 Texas Southern 119-30 and No. 9 Cal 86-46.
If Baylor hopes for a third women’s national championship in school history, Davis and Jones will play a big role. Jones, a 5-9 guard, is averaging 13.9 points and 4.8 assists. Davis, a 5-11 forward, was the 2015 Big 12 Player of the Year and is averaging 12.5 points and 5.6 rebounds this season.
Next game: No. 4 Louisville (29-7) vs. No. 1 Baylor (32-3), Waco, Texas 8 p.m. p.m. Friday, ESPN2
Kelsey Plum (G – Washington)
Washington advanced to the Sweet 16 behind another record-breaking night for Plum. She scored 38 points in a 108-82 win over Oklahoma to set the NCAA record for most points in a single season. Plum, already the career scoring leader, now has 1,080 points on the season.
The longer the Huskies stay alive in the tournament, the more chances Plum has to break records. The next big one in sight is Pete Maravich’s All-Time NCAA scoring record of 3,667 career points. Plum is currently at 3,498 points and would likely need four spectacular games to reach Pistol Pete.
Plum, a 5-8 guard, leads the nation in scoring at 31.8 points per game, while shooting 53.3 percent from the field overall, 42.9 percent from 3-point range and 88.8 percent from the foul line.
Next game: No. 2 Mississippi State (31-4) vs. No. 3 Washington (29-5), Oklahoma City., 6 p.m. Friday, ESPN2
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (G – Maryland), Brionna Jones (C, Maryland)
Maryland’s senior duo of Jones, a 6-3 center, and Walker-Kimbrough, a 5-11 guard, shouldn’t be surprised that their college careers are facing their toughest test in the state of Connecticut.
Jones and Walker-Kimbrough helped Maryland reach the Final Four in 2014 and 2015, and win three straight Big Ten titles in the school’s three seasons in the conference. On Dec. 29, they gave one of the closest challenges to UConn’s 109-game winning streak, losing 87-81.
Jones is averaging 19.8 points and 10.8 rebounds while Walker-Kimbrough is adding 18.6 points and 3.7 assists. If Maryland can win their Sweet 16 matchup against Oregon, they’ll face UConn again for the chance to get to the Final Four.
Next game: No. 10 Oregon (22-13) vs. No. 3 Maryland (32-2), Bridgeport, Conn. 10:30 a.m. Saturday, ESPN2