The California Golden Bears women’s basketball will battle the Georgia Lady Bulldogs tonight for a berth in the Final Four of the NCAA playoffs. The much-anticipated rematch between PAC-12 archrivals Stanford Cardinal and Cal didn’t materialize, as Georgia (28-6) crashed the Big Dance party and upset Stanford 61 – 59 in their Sweet 16 thriller. Georgia also defeated Montana 70 – 50 and Iowa State 65 – 60, before conquering Stanford Saturday.
Cal’s (31-3) path to the Elite Eight includes wins over Fresno State (90 – 76), South Florida (82 – 78 OT), and LSU (73 – 63) last Saturday.
The Lady Bulldogs are led by the two Jasmine’s–Jasmine Hassell (12.9 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game) and Jasmine James (11.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg). Shacobia Barbee grabs 5.9 rpg, while Anne Marie Armstrong pulls down 5.1 rpg. James is also Georgia’s leading playmaker with 128 assists. Georgia features a balanced scoring attack, with six players averaging between 7.0 and 12.9 ppg. They also have a tall frontcourt and deep bench, which will be beneficial as Cal likes to push the pace.
Georgia shoots 40.0 percent from the field, 28.0 percent behind the 3-point line, and 66.6 percent from the free throw line. The Lady Bulldogs score 66.4 ppg and grab 41.0 rpg, while allowing opponents 53.5 ppg and 37.1 rpg.
Cal is led by consensus All-PAC-12 Layshia Clarendon (16.1 ppg, 99 assists), Brittany Boyd (12.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 145 assists), Gennifer Brandon (12.6 ppg, 11.3 rpg), and Talia Caldwell (9.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg).
Cal shoots 42.5 percent from the field, 30.6 percent behind the 3-point line, and 61.7 percent from the free throw line. Cal scores 72.5 ppg and grab 44.5 rpg, while allowing opponents 58.2 ppg and 33.2 rpg.
Despite a height disadvantage, Cal imposes their extreme athleticism on opponents by forcing an uptempo, and applying heavy defensive pressure. And despite being smaller in stature, they dominate the boards with good positioning and outstanding quickness. Clarendon will get her points, but she can also distribute the ball. Boyd is an assist machine who can also create her own offense, while Brandon is dominant in the paint with her double-double averages.
Georgia can certainly match size and athleticism with their opponents, as displayed in their upset of a powerful Stanford team. For this reason alone, Cal will not underestimate the Lady Bulldogs. Georgia will double team the post, and force Cal to beat them from the perimeter. If they can close out on perimeter shots, and seal the lanes to prevent Cal’s dribble penetration, Georgia will have a puncher’s chance of absorbing Cal’s relentless attacks on both ends of the court.
Georgia has a deep bench and will need every player in the rotation to contribute on the floor against the more athletic Lady Golden Bears. This will make for a very intriguing match up between size vs. speed.
Tip off at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena will be 6:30 pm Pacific time. The game will also be broadcast on ESPN.