Tonight is one of the biggest games of the regular season in Women’s college basketball, as the undefeated UNC Lady Tar Heels face the defending Champion Maryland Terrapins, and hope to avenge the only two blemishes in last year’s campaign. Much of the focus of this game will be on the point guards, UNC’s Ivory Latta and Maryland’s Kristi Toliver. However, this game will be won in the paint, and and whether Carolina’s frontcourt of Erlana Larkins and LaToya Pringle can keep up with Crystal Langhorne and Laura Harper of the Terps. Certainly our frontcourt is formidable and talented enough, but Larkins needs to stay out of foul trouble. In a key game against UConn, Larkins got in foul trouble, getting 4 fouls by early in the second half. During her absence the huskies were able to recover from a 14 point deficit. Luckily, UNC was able to pull out the win in that game. Maryland will not be nearly as forgiving.
At this point, UNC, Duke, and Maryland are the odds-on favorites to compete for the national Championship. Therefore, any game between two of the three (this is #2 of 5) will have implications on the national picture of women’s college basketball. This battle on the court will be just like “8 Mile”, except no one is a guy. Or white.
7:02 pm: Wow. Apparently, nearly 18,000 people will be attending this game (17, 950, to be exact). I can’t recall the last time that this many fans attended as women’s regular season game, outside of the whole UConn-Tennessee games.
7:04 pm: I think it woulb be much cooler to see UNC and Duke fight it out undefeated a day after the the Men’s UNC-Duke game. That would be awesome, even better than Super Bowl weekend.
7:05 pm: UNC starts off with a steal by Larkins. McCants throws up a bad shot.
7:07 pm: Shay Doron draws first blood with the trifecta. 3-0, UMD.
7:08 pm: Pringle gets a tough basket for UNC first points, and Camille Little gets a basket off an offensive rebound. UNc needs to crash the boards well in this game. It’s now 4-3, UNC.
7:09 pm: Larkins hits her first basket off another offensive rebound to make it 6-3, UNC.
7:10 pm: Maryland is doing a good job of crashing the offensive boards as well. Crystal Langhorne gets the basket and the foul to tie the game, 6-6.
7:11 pm: I swear to (insert your deity here), Rashnada McCants looks like Rashad in drag. The next time they show her, take a good look. I assure you that you’ll agree with me.
UNC is playing well, but to pull away they will need to speed the game up.
7:13 pm: Oh no…now Dan Marino has 10 other football players losing weight on Nurtisystem. All I need is a YouTube clip of it and we have journalistic gold. If by gold, we mean a golden liquid we expel during commercial breaks.
7:14 pm: An exciting sequence that amounted to nothing: UNC gets the ball, has it stolen, Maryland turns the ball over before getting outside the backcourt, UNC then proceeds to throw it away, and then get it back. After Larkins heads to the line, Little gets a layup off the steal to make it 9-6, UNC.
7:17 pm: Latta hits the Heels’ first three, but Langhorne gets a bucket on the other end. 12-9, UNC.
7:18 pm: What the hell was that? A Maryland player tried to hit a three, and instead of hitting the broad side of a barn, she hit the silo.
7:22 pm: If you ever take me to Kia Fest, try to sell me a Sportage and I see that ridiculous dance number, I will kill you and claim self defense.
7:24 pm: Camille Little hits a nice baby hook to make it 14-9, UNC.
7:25 pm: McCants is out, Alex Miller and Jessica Breland are in. UNC gets another inside basket to make it 16-9. Maryland’s shots are simply not falling right now.
7:26 pm: Larkins hits another shot in the paint to make it 18-9, UNC. Just like in the Duke game, I have not heard much at all from Langhorne tonight.
7:28 pm: 20-9, UNC. Things have gotten bad enough for Brenda Frese to take a timeout.
7:29 pm: UNC is really going to their bench in the frontcourt. This is good because we cannot afford to see Larkins or Pringle get tired or in foul trouble. Maryland, meanwhile, ends the drought to make it 20-11, UNC.
7:34 pm: 21-11, UNC. Claytor is in for the Heels. Maryland is shooting 21% from the field. Just as I even think that, Harper hits a basket for the Terps, then Claytor hits a three, and then, each team gets a basket on the inside. Then Latta hits another three. Wow, this game got fast in a hurry. 29-15, UNC.
7:36 pm: One of Maryland’s bench players (a big girl) hits a mid-range jumper. That was cool. Even though Maryland is scoring. The Terps get another basket to make it 29-19, UNC.
7:37 pm: 31-19, UNC. Oh, Jesus, there it is again! Rashanda, you are really confusing me. If you got a buzzcut, then I would really freak out.
7:40 pm: Bizarre ad alert: OH YEAH! No pudding for Dook Boy!
7:42 pm: What is Langhorne doing defending Rashanda? No wonder Larkins is having a field day. 31-22, UNC.
7:44 pm: This game has been pretty sloppy for the last minute or so; turnovers, bad shots, no boxing out. Regardless of who’s playing, a sloppy game can get tough to watch.
7:46 pm: 33-24, UNC. Wow. That’s something you don’t see everyday. Larkins can really run.
7:47 pm: The Terps finally hit a three to make it 33-27, UNC. Maryland is closing in fast. Just when Maryland is getting momentum, Brenda Frese basically puts herself in the middle of the court and gets a technical.
7:50 pm: The first half ends with the Tar Heels leading, 35-27. UNC is playing excellent defense, forcing the Terps to 27% shooting. For the Heels to keep their lead, Larkins needs to keep getting the ball, so that she can get points in the paint and then dish it out to the perimeter to keep the defense honest.
8:06 pm: Larkins hits another easy shot to take a 37-27 lead. Her move remind me of another UNC forward: Tyler Hansbrough. Latta hits another three to make it 40-27, UNC.
8:08 pm: Prepare to be bombarded by Juelz Santana’s “Second Coming” just as much, if not more, than you were bombarded by John Mellencamp’s “This is Our Country” during football season. Mark my words. Camille Little hits another inside shot, but the Terps finally get a shot (the trifecta) in the second half to make it 42-32, UNC.
8:11 pm: 50-35, UNC. Larkins vs. Langhorne: advantage Larkins. Latta vs. Terps perimeter shooting: advantge Latta.
8:12 pm: Ivory Latta officially has a following. Apparently Lebron and Ludacris are huge fans, and try to watch all of her games. I think she has both the skills and the attitude to make people pay attention to the WNBA next year.
8:14 pm: Bizarre ad alert: Unpimp ze auto.
8:16 pm: 55-35, UNC. OOOOHHHHHHHHH!!! Latta hits another three, her sixth of the game! WHOOOOOOO!!!! She is on fire tonight. I don’t think Maryland can come back at this point.
8:19 pm: 55-37, UNC. Laura Harper stops the bleeding. Brenda Frese is giving the thumbs down. I understand, even Roger Ebert would give a thumbs down to her team’s performance.
8:21 pm: 55-39, UNC. Toliver makes a perfect pass to Brenda Frese. Too bad she’s the coach.
8:22 pm: 55-41, UNC. Maryland hits their third straight shot. I’m starting to get worried that they’ll let Maryland back in this game.
8:24 pm: The ESPN commentator just said that a one of the Terps players tries to motivates her teammates with chest bumps. I’m here trying to envision how girls would do that. I have a filthy, filthy mind.
8:25 pm: 57-45, UNC. The bad news: UNC’s lead is down to 12 and is threatening to come within 10. The worse news: The crowd is back in the game. Frese made an excellent adjustment after the first TV timeout, and UNC is playing too timidly, as though they are playing not to lose rather than playing to win. Hatchell needs to makes them get aggressive again.
8:28 pm: Langhorne hits a tough shot off a rebound to make it 57-47, UNC. The Terps have outscored Carolina 14-2 in the latest stretch.
8:30 pm: 59-47, UNC. Larkins stops the bleeding with two free throws. Claytor is in the game to give UNC some offense.
8:32 pm: Harper gets two quick fouls on the defensive end. More importantly, the Heels ate up some clock without Maryland scoring. Too bad they couldn’t score.
8:34 pm: Doron hits three straight shots to bring the game to 61-53, UNC. Pray to god that she’s not Eminem in my “8 Mile” analogy.
8:36 pm: 63-53, UNC. I just saw a sign that says “Frese the Turtle.’ That makes absolutely no sense, because it sounds like “freeze the turtle”, something that a UNC fan might say. But the guy holding it up was clearly a Terps fan. That sign simply cannot be explained in a rational way.
And speaking of irrational, that Nike ad is on again. “The Second Coming/the new beginning/the idiot is speaking/you should shut up.”
8:40 pm: UNC is still not hitting their shots. I’m really concerned now; all the momentum belongs to the Terps.
8:41 pm: 65-55, UNC. Wow. Larkins just went completely Psycho T on Langhorne just now. She’s having a huge game.
8:43 pm: 65-59, UNC. WTF? Traveling! TRAVELING! CALL TRAVELING!!!
8:44 pm: 67-59, UNC. Breland hits a tough shot in the paint, but I am feeling very uncomfortable right now. We need to hit our shots better.
8:46 pm: 67-62, UNC. Doron hits a three, another big shot. To boot, McCants fouls out. AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGGH!!!!!!
8:48 pm: UNC continues to miss their shots, and Maryland continues to hit them. 67-64, UNC.
8:50 pm: I just went downstairs to get mt rosary for good luck. Hopefully it helps. So far it’s brought me a lot of luck.
8:53 pm: Doron is on fire; she hit a another shot to make it 67-66, UNC. We have been outscored 33-12 since gaining a 20 point lead.
8:54 pm: Just as I say that, Larkins hits another shot and UNC leads, 69-66.
8:55 pm: Uh-oh, Camille Little is cramping up. We cannot afford to have her out at this stage of the game.
Yesss! Latta hits a shot in the lane to make it 71-66, and they get the ball back.
8:56 pm: Little hits a good shot despite her cramp. UNC now leads, 73-66. They have outscored the Terps 6-2 since I got my rosary from downstairs, 6-0 since I wrapped it on my hand.
8:58 pm: 75-69, UNC. Maryland is still hanging around, but they are forced to foul at this point in the game (less than 1 minute left).
9:00 pm: 77-69, UNC. 45 seconds left. It looks like UNC has weathered the storm.
9:05 pm: The game goes final: 84-71, UNC. The Tar Heels played very well for most of the game. Like against UConn, squandered a big lead in the second half by playing too conservatively, but we did just enough in the end to get the victory. Credit that to Ivory Latta (32 points) and Erlana Larkins (20 and 13), who both had an amazing game. I can’t wait until the week after the Super Bowl, when Duke and UNC face off in Cameron Indoor Stadium, The Men on Wednesday night and the Women (#1 vs. #2) on Thursday night. In Chapel Hill, this is much bigger than the Super Bowl. This is gonna be huge.
One last thought. The ESPN play-by play announcer made weird references to rap songs the entire game. At the end of the broadcast he said this:
“And as the popular rap song goes, Ivory Latta was ‘Shakin’ her Moneymaker’ tonight”.