Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays 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.
Dana Evans hit the shot heard around women's college basketball over Thanksgiving weekend, an audacious 3-pointer from darn near international waters in the closing minutes of Louisville's upset of top-ranked Oregon at the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
What most who missed the rest of the game didn't see was that the shot came in the midst of an almighty struggle of a shooting performance for the Louisville junior. At the moment she took the shot that all but ruled out a Ducks comeback, Evans had missed 10 of her previous 14 attempts, including all but one of six attempts from the 3-point line.
It didn't matter. And it didn't matter in a couple of ways that help explain why Evans is the espnW player of the week after leading the Cardinals to the tournament title.
First, struggles aside, Evans had the confidence as a first-year full-time starter to take the kind of shot more associated with Steph Curry -- let alone former Louisville All-American Asia Durr. She was confident when the shots were falling against UT Arlington and Oklahoma State earlier in the tournament. She was confident even when they didn't fall early against Oregon.
Second, it didn't matter, because the shot merely enhanced a lead Louisville already held in part because Evans made sure Sabrina Ionescu had an even less successful shooting day.
On both ends of the court, Evans gave the Cardinals exactly what they needed in St. Thomas. For the tournament, she averaged 21.3 points and 4.3 assists and made 11 3-pointers.
That included 17 hard-earned points against the Ducks.
Go back to the 3-pointer that extended Louisville's lead to 66-57 with just under two minutes to play against Oregon. The 5-foot-6 Evans began the sequence with 6-foot-4 Satou Sabally enveloping her near midcourt. Evans drove right to force Sabally to give ground, then retreated to run time off the clock. Sabally started to come all the way out again but backpedaled to the 3-point line as the shot clock reached 10 seconds. Distracted by an approaching screen from Kylee Shook, she barely even got an arm up as Evans took two quick dribbles and launched.
A little more than a week before the Thanksgiving trip, Louisville coach Jeff Walz said he felt like he had a bunch of players who could score 15 to 20 points on a given night. But he didn't have anyone who could score 35 like Durr. That wasn't necessarily a fatal flaw, just a difference.
"With Asia and even when Shoni [Schimmel] was here," Walz said, "It might be one ball screen and they're looking to attack to score. Where now you might see us attacking to create for someone else."
But it's still rare, if not downright impossible, to compete for championships at any level without someone who both wants the ball in the fourth quarter and can do something to create scoring opportunities. Even if "something" is shoot the ball from four steps behind the 3-point line.
Louisville could replace Durr's points with balance. Could it replace the kind of fourth-quarter option it had with her, Schimmel or Angel McCoughtry?
"Nobody is going to come in and be that person," Walz said before Thanksgiving. "They're going to be their own person. I think we have enough talent within our program right now that somebody is going to evolve. I'm not sure who it is, but I think somebody is going to evolve and be our No. 1."
That could be Jazmine Jones, who hit a big shot the possession before the 3-pointer. It could yet be someone else. But all week and in the season's biggest game, Evans made clear she is willing.
Also considered: Jaylyn Agnew, Creighton; Aliyah Boston, South Carolina; Ciara Duffy, South Dakota; Kiah Gillespie, Florida State; Madinah Muhammad, North Carolina; Ali Patberg, Indiana