INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Baylor fans waved towels that read "Finish the job." Emily Niemann took the message personally.
On Tuesday night, Niemann looked like an All-America player alongside her two higher-profile teammates and helped spark the Bears to an 84-62 victory over Michigan State and their first national title.
While All-Americans Sophia Young and Steffanie Blackmon did the bulk of the scoring and rebounding, as usual, it was an unlikely gym rat who got the Bears settled down and into their regular offense.
Baylor (33-3) threw the ball away three times in the first three minutes, before Niemann came off the bench. Niemann then took over, shredding Michigan State's vaunted zone defense with a flurry of 3-pointers. Her outside shooting forced the Spartans to extend their defense and opened up the middle for Young and Blackmon, who combined for 48 points and 16 rebounds.
But Niemann arguably had the bigger role. The bulky 6-foot-1 forward finished with 19 points -- 15 in the first half, all on 3-pointers when the Bears needed a lift. She scored Baylor's first two baskets, both 3-pointers.
"Niemann was really critical overall with her confidence and opening up the inside for them," Michigan State coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
It was actually the second national title for the Niemann family: Her brother Jeff Niemann led Rice to the College World Series title in 2003 by going 17-0.
It was Emily Niemann's second straight big game in the women's Final Four. She scored 14 points as the Bears rallied from a 15-point deficit to beat LSU 68-57.
"There aren't many girls that have wrist action like that and that strength form the perimeter at that size," coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson had said before the game.
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