Georgia Women's Hoops Game Preview and Open Comment Thread: Elite 8 vs. Cal Golden Bears on ESPN

USA TODAY Sports

After a thrilling, hard fought upset of top seeded Stanford Saturday night, Andy Landers and the Lady Hoop Dawgs (28-6) are one win away from their first trip to the Final Four since 1999. To get there though, they have to first get past a Cal Golden Bears (31-3) squad in the midst of their "most successful season in program history". The game is scheduled to get going at 9, and can be seen on ESPN.

In contrast to long tenured Landers, who's in his 34th season as head coach in Athens, and 38th overall with 905 victories under his belt and 11 appearances in the Elite Eight, Cal is led by second year coach Lindsay Gottlieb. Gottlieb is now in her 5th season as a head coach, coming from UC Santa Barbara.

The age/experience difference won't be the only contrast tonight, as the two teams play vastly different styles. Landers' squads are known for their defensive tenacity and methodical pace, while the Golden Bears like to push the ball up and down the floor in an up tempo attack. Cal rates as the 17th highest scoring team in the country at 72.5 pts per game, while sitting 87th defensively (allowing 58.2 per). Georgia on the other hand has the nation's 28th best scoring defense, and the 85th ranked scoring offense (with their average game ending 66.4-53.5. Cal is also one of the best rebounding teams in the nation, having the 3rd best rebounding margin in the country at +11.3.

As you probably know, the Lady Dawgs are led by seniors Jasmine James and Jasmine Hassell. Hassell, a 6'2 F, leads the team in scoring (12.9 per) and rebounding (6.2 per). The PG James, 5'9 out of Memphis, is second in scoring (11.0), while leading the team in assists (3.7) and steals (2.3). Senior F Anne Marie Armstrong starts, and provides solid all around play , averaging 7.1 pts and 5.1 rebounds, while sitting 3rd on the team in assists and steals and leading the team in blocked shots. Junior G Khaalidah Miller, along with freshmen Shacobia Barber and Tiara Griffin get the bulk of the remaining minutes, with Miller playing a "6th women" role off the bench.

Cal, in their first ever Elite 8 appearance, knocked off LSU Saturday to get to tonight. They're led by 5'9 senior Layshia Clarendon, who averaged 16.1 pts per game this season. Sophomore PG Brittany Boyd is their second leading scorer (12.7), while also stuffing a stat line at 5.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 2.6 steals. 6'2 junior PF Gennifer Brandon is one of the top bigs in the country, averaging a double-double (12.6 pts and 11.3 rebounds). Senior C Talia Caldwell and Jr wing Afure Jemerigbe round out their starting lineup; a starting 5 that has begun 33 of their 34 games this season.

Cal brings a strong squad, who's only losses were to Stanford and Duke in the regular season, then UCLA in the Pac 12 Tournament. The 2 seed in the West region, this game would also be a significant upset for the Lady Dawgs just like Saturday's win over the Cardinal. Prior to Baylor's shock upset at the hands of Louisville, the Lady Golden Bears regular season win over Stanford represented the only loss one of the 4 one seeds (Baylor, UConn, Notre Dame, and Stanford) had against someone other than themselves.

This will be the fourth time Georgia and Cal have played, with the Lady Dawgs winning all 3 previous meetings (the last coming in Athens during the 2002-3 season). And I'd be remiss to not tip my cap to Cal SID Miquel Jacobs for that tidbit, as well as much of the above information, taken from their game notes and the above linked preview.

Once again, the game tips off on ESPN tonight shortly after 9.

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