If you would like to watch or rewatch along with me, check out the archived replay at ESPN3!
20:00: The Bears are down 26-21. Lindz says the Bears are rushing shots, and Gen just isn't playing well. Sounds like a rough 1st half. I skipped it for a reason.
19:23: Brittany draws a huge 3rd foul on Jasmine Hassell. Underrated aspect of Brit's game: her ability to just recklessly attack. Sure, there are occasional offensive fouls. But it gets the other team in foul trouble more often. She makes 1 of 2.
19:06: Refs need to know that Brittany's hands are fast and accurate. All ball. But there's body contact, so I'm not shocked they call a foul. 3 for Brit, and she heads for the bench. If I didn't know the outcome, I'd be mildly panicking.
18:30: Layshia speeds to chase down a loose ball, then weaves through defenders for an easy fast break layup to cut the deficit to six. Most of this post will be a paean to Layshia.
18:00: Gen may have had a bad game, but she also had an unlucky one. A defensive rebound goes a bit over her, she chases it, and runs right into a Georgia player that beat her to the spot. To add insult to injury, she throws the ball up and it goes through for an and 1. Harsh.
17:00: Gen comes inches away from a steal and a sure bucket the other way. Instead her mark steps up to nail the long J. One of those days when every little mistake is punished to the maximum. Down nine early in the 2nd half?
16:05: Afure nails a pretty looking stagger-step J, and Brittany is so impressed from the bench that she fist pumps her towel onto the court, then grins sheepishly as Justine Hartman gives her a hard time. I love this team.
14:24: Georgia is slow switching off a screen, so Layshia nails a three. Meanwhile, eavesdropping ESPN reporters are revealing Lindsay's secrets. THOSE MONSTERS. Bears down 4.
13:47: All Talia. She plays solid D to force a tough miss from a Georgia post. The outlet gets pushed quickly out to a leaking Reshanda Gray, but she misses her layup. No worries, Talia has already made it down the court. She grabs the rebound and calmly puts it back. Deceptively quick, she is. Bears within 2.
11:55: A defender charges Layshia, so she calmly steps aside, rises, and nails a jumper. Bears down 1. Momentum! I think we're going to win this one by 10.
11:23: ESPN's crack reporting team has ascertained that Lindsay will indeed put Brittany Boyd back in the game at some point. Totally worth not letting our coach talk to our team. Sigh.
9:30: A few nice Georgia drives around a few turnovers, and the lead has ballooned again. Announcers rightly pointing out that the Bears just don't look comfortable against the zone. And maybe that's what Georgia excels at. It doesn't look amazing, but it's hard to argue with what is, statistically, a top 10 defense.
9:00: Hassell gets away with an over-the-back that could have been her 4th (and she had had other close calls) and then a Reshanda shot somehow rolls off. Did we really win this game?
8:22: A great Georgia offensive play gets a mismatch, and Reshanda fouls for an and-1. Reshanda draws a foul on the other end, and gets one of two. Bears down 6, with little if any offensive flow or confidence unless Layshia gets an open shot.
6:46: Cal finally gets that 4th foul on Hassell, but they throw away the inbound pass, foul the Georgia shooter, and find themselves down 10 points. It was a great season Bears, no need to hang your heads.
5:56: Layshia contests the shot, pulls down the rebound, races in transition, resets, takes the pass, makes the move, and nails the baseline jumper. Bears down 5.
5:00: Frustrating possession. Georgia basically doesn't run any offense before heaving a 3 as the shot clock expires, but Cal fumbles the rebound out of bounds. They decide to enter it into the post after running off another 20 seconds, and Hassell draws a foul. She only makes 1.
4:22: All kinds of chances, all kinds of great looks, but in the end Layshia draws a foul that maybe shouldn't be a shooting foul but is ruled one. Two swishes, of course.
3:30: A brilliant defensive possession. Georgia wants to enter it to Hassell, but Talia has her covered with the help of Afure shading into the paint. So James takes it one on one against Layshia, and she forces an ugly shot. Cal comes back the other way and Brittany makes a brilliant pass to Talia, who scores easily. Bears down 2. We've at the under 4 timeout, and at the moment I'm almost glad I didn't have to suffer through the ups and downs of this game live.
2:55: This time Georgia gets it in to Hassell, but she's essentially triple teamed, and misses. Afure draws a weird 4th foul on James, and steps to the line for a one and one. She misses intentionally to set up the best play in Cal's playbook: offensive rebound on a missed free throw and score. Talia does the honors, and we're tied.
2:20: Boyd fouls out James in transition, and Brit nails both shots. Perhaps the single biggest play of the game? The main cog in Georgia's offense is done. Meanwhile, the Georgia band has evidently been working on the railroad.
2:00: The Bulldogs step out of bounds! Cal has the ball, a 2 point lead, and are in the middle of a 11-1 run! I cannot foresee the Bears failing to score again in regulation!
1:42: Layshia gets a good look, but it rims out. Georgia grabs the rebound and races out in transition for a layuAFURE BLOCK OUT OF NOWHERE! CalBear81 clasps her hands together in admiration! Grrrahs for everybody!
0:27: Cal just can't score, but it's not for doing the wrong thing. A good look from Layshia, a good look from Afure, and then a foul, but Afure misses the front end of the one and one. If one of those goes down, no OT.
0:00: That was a hell of a play by Armstrong. I don't have an issue with Lindsay not calling a timeout, but wow Georgia got everybody back quickly. Layshia was sprinting down, and it was already 1 on 5. Maybe a timeout there might have helped, but credit to Georgia for playing the last 30 seconds perfectly after letting Cal back into it. Oooooovertime
5:00: Coach G says we're in control. Is there anybody I'd trust more?
4:30: Georgia hits a 3? They're not supposed to do that! Talia responds with an offensive rebound, and goes right around Hassell with a pretty move.
4:00: Brittany, doing her thing. A steal, a race, a basket. Easy.
3:15: AFUR3. Perhaps the most confident game of her career, and on both ends.
2:22: A women's basketball ref special: When in doubt, throw those thumbs in the air. Nevermind that Afure pulled the ball away from Georgia as soon as they touched it. Luckily Cal has the arrow. Bears by 4.
1:26: The Bears go into their ball-control, clock killing offense. Layshia knifes into the lane for a solid look, but it misses. Talia gets the rebound and is fouled. She misses both free throws, but Reshanda pulls down the rebound and resets. Brittany drives and throws it up, but Layshia is there to clean up and finally get the two points. Bears by six, and they ran nearly a minute off the clock. I'm starting to hear some jazz.
1:03: Georgia hits 2 free throws . . . and decide to play defense rather than foul! I'll credit Andy Landers - he had his team ready to play and he generally hit the right buttons. But he made a mistake here. And Layshia makes him pay. I don't know if I can describe how great a play it was. She calmly held the ball for 20 seconds, made her move, spun past the defender and buried her shot. Georgia paved the road for her, and she gladly took the right path. Bears by six.
0:15: Georgia finally gets a bucket (their . . . 3rd since the 8 minute mark of the 2nd half? Something like that) but it took more than 20 seconds. And that's what matters for the Bears.
0:00: Reshanda makes one of two, Georgia hits a meaningless three, Layshia makes one of two, Georgia hoists up a prayer that goes over the backboard and . . .
FINAL FOUR! NEW ORLEANS! And my favorite image from the game? This one, with Layshia Clarendon and Afure Jemerigbe racing to their teammates, faces full of the most intense joy you'll ever see, ready to revel til the break of dawn. What a game.