Posted: 2:08 p.m. Sunday, March 31, 2013
With 7 meetings between the Georgia Bulldogs and Stanford Cardinal in the NCAA tourney, it is, in fact, a real post season rivalry. One that has often not gone our way. And in true Bulldog fashion, we have another JJ that rose to the occasion in Jasmine James with 16 pts, but just as important she made 2 critical free throws in the last seconds to seal the lead and victory. Coach Landers makes his first appearance in the Final Four since 1999, with his 11th appearance already completed in the regional finals. It started so horribly, with Georgia down 0-9 in the first 5 minutes, and only improving, if that's even a way to say it, to 6-15 by the 11th minute. It looked like it was game over.
The beauty of basketball, however, is it is truly a two half game. With Jasmine Hassell contributing 13 pts, and Tiaria Griffin also contributing 13 pts, we got some of that total team effort to hang in the game and fight back. What started as a disaster ended the first half at 27-34 in the 'Trees favor. But we were back in it. And at 8 minutes to go, with great hustle and defensive effort, Georgia finally tied the game 42-42, and we had a Dawgs chance. The hard part is Georgia still has bad numbers from the perimeter, shooting 35% in FGs and 29% in tres. They were even out-rebounded 41-39. But that's why this is a team. They fought hard in the paint on both ends of the court, forcing fouls, disrupting the 'Cards game, and really, truly finishing the drill with determination, drive and athletic ability. Even Freshman Anne Armstrong, who had a poor day shooting, still tied up every ball she could under the basket, pulling in 10 rebounds, and allowing the athletic guards to get to the hole.
Let's not dismiss how good the Stanford Cardinal are. They were #1 for a reason. They have have had the Lady Dawgs number for a long, long time. Georgia was out-shot in FGs and in FTs. And there in lies the difference. Georgia's 8 Personal Fouls to Stanford's 15 put us on the line more often, and even though the charity stripe was anything but free with only 11 of 20 FTs made, it shows our drive and hustle forced Stanford to foul, stop the clock, and allow us to get back in the game. And that's all part of why I love basketball - it's a 40 minute game, and sheer will and determination can often overcome the higher seeds and more popular team. I love precision, good coaching, and solid strategy in sports. But I also love to watch a team play with heart, determination, never folding, and finishing the drill. This was a great win for the Women's Basketball Team. Not because of a win, not because it was elegant, not because we beat long time tournament foe Stanford, but because they believed in themselves, played as a team, and never gave up.
Oh, and hell yea, this is basketball. Ain't it great! Georgia will compete for a trip to the Final Four Monday night.