- Charlie Creme, Women's College Basketball
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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.
If there ever was a time for Vanderbilt's Tiffany Clarke to play her best basketball, it's now.
With the Commodores' NCAA tournament résumé beginning to look a bit shaky, they were in desperate need of a winning streak. Some kind of marquee win, following recent drubbings by SEC pace-setters Kentucky and Tennessee, was also in order to ensure that Vanderbilt reach the tournament for the 14th straight year.
Vandy got both this week and it was largely due to Clarke elevating her game past any level it has been at all season, which earned her espnW national player of the week accolades.
The 6-foot senior paved the way for a road win on Thursday at Florida with 26 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks, but that was just the appetizer to the main course that would be Sunday's victory over Texas A&M in Nashville.
Playing without second-leading scorer Christina Foggie for a fourth straight game, Vanderbilt relied even more on Clarke against the 10th-ranked Aggies. Point guard Jasmie Lister kept pumping the ball to Clarke in the low post and she delivered with a career-high 30 points and seven rebounds in the 61-51 triumph, Vandy's first over a top-10 opponent in three seasons. Twenty-two of those points came in a second half in which the Commodores were fighting back countless A&M rallies to win consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 6.
Perhaps just as important, Clarke was the major player in limiting Aggies' 6-4 post Kelsey Bone. A top contender for SEC player of the year, Bone entered Sunday as the second-most accurate shooter in the country. She left having made just 6 of 18 field goal attempts and an inefficient 17 points.
Vanderbilt's NCAA tournament chances look a little more solid than they did a week ago thanks in large part to Clarke, but with Foggie's status still a day-to-day situation, she might have to keep carrying the Commodores for the final two games of the regular season and into the SEC tournament.
Skylar Diggins, Notre Dame: The Irish had seven days between games, so Diggins apparently decided to do as much in her one game this week as she possibly could. The senior All-American recorded the second triple-double of her career with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in Notre Dame's 84-56 trouncing of DePaul in Chicago, the Irish's 20th straight win.
Tyaunna Marshall, Georgia Tech: The junior guard scored 37 points and added 6 rebounds and 4 steals in an upset of Miami, then added 27 points, 10 rebounds and 5 steals in a victory over Wake Forest.
18dBonnie D. Ford