Sunday night marks a historic moment for two women's basketball programs. The Syracuse Orange and Washington Huskies will play in the first Final Four for both teams. Who wins that matchup may come down to star players for each team. Namely the point guards who have become two of the best at the position in women's college basketball.
Kelsey Plum is an elite scorer. She averages over 26 points and four assists per game. Her offensive game is extremely versatile. Plum can drive, finish around the rim, score in traffic, hit mid-range and three-point jumpers and she can create for others. There is nothing she cannot do on the offensive end of the court.
Where Plum has struggled, at times, this season is with turnovers. In fact, she has more turnovers than assists during the year. She had eight turnovers in an early season matchup with Syracuse.
Alexis Peterson has saved her best for last. Averaging 16 points and nearly five assists per game for the year, her scoring output has increased dramatically since the NCAA Tournament began. Peterson has surpassed 20 points in each of the four contests and is averaging 25 points per game during that span.
Peterson can also hit from anywhere on the floor. When left open, she can kill you from the three-point arc. If you close on her, she has a quick first step in order to get by an opponent and attack the rim. Once in the lane, she can pull up and hit from the free-throw line or take it all the way to the bucket.
In the first matchup, both point guards filled the box score but were inconsistent in the game. Plum finished with 19 points on 6-15 shooting with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. She turned it over eight times as previously mentioned, however.
"We made her turn the ball over and held onto the ball ourselves," Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said after the early season win. "That's what we have to do. We have to be physical, we've got to be aggressive, we've got to speed these games up with our defense."
Peterson finished with 12 points on 5-13 shooting with eight rebounds, six assists and two steals. She did not turn the ball over, which was an important part of Syracuse's 66-62 victory back in November.
They key in this one will be offensive efficiency and turnovers. Both Plum and Peterson are playing much better now than they were at the time. Both have developed over the course of the season. Both are the clear leaders of their team.
Expect Peterson and Plum to take a fair amount of shots in Sunday's game. Both will have the ball in their hands for a majority of their team's offensive possessions. How each limits turnovers will be critical, as well as who shoots the ball well.
More specifically, how Plum handles Syracuse's pressure will go a long way in the outcome. She turned it over a lot in the first matchup, but did she learn from that experience? Will she be more prepared this time around? The Orange will likely have a few wrinkles to confuse her and they certainly have the speed and quickness to give her fits.
These two big time players have risen to the moment throughout the postseason. If both do so again on Sunday in Indianapolis, it will make for one entertaining basketball game.