Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women's college basketball season.
Tyaunna Marshall's senior season was getting away from her. Sure, the individual numbers were still there -- second in the ACC in scoring and steals, and 11th in rebounding from her guard spot -- but with three losses in five games and no marquee wins for the résumé, her Yellow Jackets were staring at a second straight year without an NCAA tournament.
And then last week happened, and it became the biggest week in Georgia Tech's season and in Marshall's career.
A berth in March's big event is still a long way from guaranteed, but without Marshall's effort in two huge wins, that dream might have already died.
Marshall, espnW's national player of the week, delivered in a big way. Thursday in Atlanta, the Yellow Jackets beat a ranked opponent for the first time in two seasons, outgunning North Carolina 94-91. Marshall scored 32 points to go along with eight rebounds, five assists and three steals, the kind of stat sheet stuffing that Tech fans have grown accustomed to from the 5-foot-9 native of Upper Marlboro, Md.
In the process, Marshall became Georgia Tech's all-time leading scorer and is now just 20 points from the 2,000-point career mark. Even better, the two points that broke the program's previous record were two free throws that gave Georgia Tech its three-point cushion with 4.2 seconds left.
On Sunday, the Yellow Jackets found themselves down nine with eight minutes left at Miami, in danger of erasing all the good that the North Carolina win had meant. Marshall took the lead again, scoring six points in a 14-0 run. She then proceeded to score Georgia Tech's final three points in the 89-87 come-from-behind win, the Yellow Jackets' third straight victory and third consecutive road win, another key NCAA tournament marker.
Sixteen of Marshall's team-high 24 points came after halftime, as did five of her career-high seven steals. Coach MaChelle Joseph called Marshall's play "critical," saying that defensive turnaround in the final eight minutes spearheaded was the key to the win. Marshall also tallied three assists and a team-high nine rebounds and three assists.
Georgia Tech is now back in NCAA tournament contention and has a few more opportunities coming up to make a run at a top-four spot in the ACC race, opportunities that would not have existed without Marshall's peak performances at a critical time.