Thomas and Schimmel weren't the only players to put up points Sunday afternoon. Tennessee's Meighan Simmons finished with 31 points in her final college game, and LSU's Danielle Ballard had 24 points in an effort that cemented the sophomore as a player to watch next season. Simmons wasn't nearly as influential as Thomas on the day. Ballard had a stronger case for top individual honors in the second game. But both of their performances clearly lacked something both victorious stars had. Help.
Everything that makes Schimmel so marvelous was on display against LSU, right down to one of the loudest roars of the night when she drove toward the middle of the lane in transition and pulled off a behind-the-back pass that her sister Jude not only caught but finished around LSU post Theresa Plaisance. This is her stage, as it was when she hit clutch 3-pointers to upset second-seeded Xavier as a freshman and as it was on that memorable night in Oklahoma City last year.
She just picks her spots now -- most of the time, at least. She is efficient.
"I think as she's gone and gotten older and more mature, she's letting the game come to her more," Walz said. "I was really impressed. She goes 6-of-13 from the field, and they were doing a really nice job of trying to face-guard her, trying to frustrate her, and she didn't force things. She let the game come to her."
And if the moment is right when it comes to her, she takes it to the other team. Just as Thomas did when the moment called for it in the second half Sunday.
"I think the most special thing about Alyssa, when you talk about everything that's been written and everything that we've seen, is just her ability to -- the higher the stakes, she elevates her game," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "I think the thing that separates her is her ability to elevate everybody else on our team around her."
Two of the season's defining players square off with everything on the line Tuesday (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET), a second Final Four for Schimmel or a first for Thomas. It is a game about them. They have earned as much.
Even if it's the one who gets the most help who moves on.