- Mechelle Voepel, espnW.com
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TAMPA, Fla. -- Alberta Auguste's college basketball career started in the Sunshine State, and that's where it will end, too. Where she is now is quite a jump from where she began.
She played two seasons of juco ball at Central Florida Community College. She couldn't quite believe it when Tennessee called with interest.
"When I found out they were recruiting me, I was kind of shocked," Auguste said. "I was like, 'Tennessee wants me?' But I'm happy that I'm here. I've gotten to play with the best and against the best."
Auguste, a Louisiana native who is the youngest of six children, is a 5-foot-11 forward who specializes on defense but has come up with some key offensive performances in her two seasons at Tennessee.
"Let's not forget last year -- she was very instrumental in us winning a championship," coach Pat Summitt said. "And for whatever reason, this is her time. I think [Sunday], if I could say one player in that starting five that I challenged really and truly answered it, that definitely would be Alberta."
Auguste had 10 points, and that was a lot of scoring in Tennessee's 47-46 semifinal victory over LSU on Sunday. Her last basket came with 51 seconds left. Tennessee really needed the offense from Auguste and fellow juco transfer Shannon Bobbitt (11 points), especially on a night when a sore-shouldered Candace Parker went 6-of-27 from the field. Plus, Alexis Hornbuckle, Angie Bjorklund and Alex Fuller were a combined 3-for-18.
Auguste said Summitt has reinforced in her the confidence that even if she is the fifth option on the court in terms of scoring, when there's an opening for her, she needs to go for it.
"Her just believing in me has helped me out a whole lot," Auguste said. "Playing for Pat Summitt means a whole lot. We don't take it for granted. She's like having another mother."
Auguste also scored 10 points in last year's NCAA title game victory over Rutgers. That was one of seven games all last season in which she finished with double figures, and it came at the perfect time.
"My defense always sets the tone for me," she said. "When I have the opportunity, I take what I can on offense, as well. Last year, I did a good job in the postseason, and I'm trying to do the same thing this year."
Auguste expects to spend a lot of time defending against Stanford's Candice Wiggins in Tuesday's game.
"I'm going to try everything against her," she said, adding with a smile of how close she intends to guard Wiggins. "If I have to follow her to the restroom, I'll follow her. I'll do whatever it takes for us to win this championship."
Mechelle Voepel of The Kansas City Star is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.
For the second straight Final Four, Alberta Auguste is coming up with big performances. She'll need another one Tuesday, especially as she helps shoulder the defensive assignment on Stanford's Candice Wiggins.