This is the final region to go before the BOTL 2009 Final Four is set. So far, Clemson, West Virginia, and Minnesota have all advanced to the national semifinals. The #1 seeds are 0-3 in the regional finals, and Cal is the weakest #1 seed remaining. Will they have an early exit? Find out after the jump.
#1 California vs. #8 Chattanooga
The Golden Bears got off to a slow start and went behind 16-11. Nothing to worry about though right? Usually that means they’re winding up for a blowout. It was the Mocs of Chattanooga that came out firing and hit 17-28 field goals in the first half! This was unprecedented. The scoreline read Chattanooga 42 Cal 23 at the half! Mike Montgomery’s team was out of sorts and the start of hte 2nd half didn’t bode them much better. They fell behind 51-30 with 16:25 to go and it looked like the Pac-10′s lone representative would bow out to the #8 seed. But then, a three point play by Omondi Amoke started a 12-0 run to cut the lead to 51-42 with 11:24 to go.
At the under 8:00 media timeout the Bears chipped away to the point where it was 55-51. They would not give up against an inferior opponent. Harper Kamp’s drive to the bucket and score gave Cal their first lead since 4-2! Just 4:35 to go and Cal was up 64-62, outscoring the Mocs 34-11. This seesaw battle would not end though, as Chattanooga came right back and went on an 8-3 run to take a 70-67 lead with 2:30 remaining. Nicchaeus Doaks hit back-to-back buckets in that span for the Mocs. With under :20 to go Cal fought back and took a slim 72-70 lead into our transition into the announcer guy.
“Jordan Wilkes on the drive!!! NO!!! HE TIPS IN HIS OWN MISS!! JUST :12 TO GO AND CAL LEADS BY 4!!! THE MOCS HAVE TO HURRY!!! TY PATTERSON DRILLS A THREE WITH :04 LEFT!!! NOW THEY HAVE TO FOUL!!! CAL IS GETTING AWAY FROM THEM AND NOW THEY FOUL JEROME RANDLE WITH A FEW TENTHS OF A SECOND TO GO!!! WHAT A COMEBACK BY CAL!!!! FROM 21 DOWN THEY STORM BACK AND SURVIVE THE UPSET BID!”
Randle would hit 1 of 2 but there was not enough time to get a shot off for a heartbroken Chatanooga. Cal 75 Chatanooga 73. A classic game, but in the end the Golden Bears survive and advance.
#4 Mississippi State vs. #5 Northern Iowa
In contrast to the classic we just had, this one was a defensive struggle. Northern Iowa took a small 35-31 lead into halftime. After that they just froze. The suffocating Bulldogs defense featuring shotblocking extraordinare Jarvis Varnado held the Panthers to 12 points in the 2nd half! One DOZEN!! As a team NIU shot 27% from the field and hit just 14 field goals. They also couldn’t contain Mississippi State’s longball. The Bulldogs shot 10-19 from downtoen and ended up coasting in this one. Mississippi State 60 Northeen Iowa 47.
#2 BYU vs. #7 Cal-State Northridge
BYU’s Jonathan Tavernari could not be stopped in this game. He scored 24 points to go along with 7 rebounds as the Cougars beat up on CS-Northridge 77-64. The Matadors hung in tough at the break down just 44-39, but after that is was all BYU.
#3 Utah State vs. #6 Cornell
This could quite possibly be the beat game of the tournament. The Aggies looked to put away the Ivy League school to set up an all-Utah matchup in the 2nd round. Despite trailing early 7-0, Cornell fought back and led 36-31 at halftime. Fot the Big Red they could never stretch that lead further than 8 in the 2nd half, allowing Utah State to claw their way back within reach of taking the lead. Cornell led 74-72 in the final seconds of regulation so it’s time to go to the announcer guy.
“Louis Dale with the ball. HE PUTS IT UP AND IT IS BLOCKED BY JARED QUAYLE!!! UTAH STATE WILL PLAY FOR THE FINAL SHOT!! TAI WESLEY WITH :06! With :04! HE HAS TO PUT IT UP!!!! SCORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TAI WESLEY HITS FROM 12 FEET AND WE’RE GOING TO OVERTIME!!! AMAZING!!”
That finish may have been great, but what happened at the end of the OT session was dually impressive. This time the Aggies were up 86-83 with Cornell gaining possession with :24 to go.
“CORNELL PUSHES UP THE FLOOR!! RYAN WITTMAN TO TIE IT WITH A THREE!!!!!! ONIONS!!!!!!!! 86-86!!! HIS FOURTH THREE OF THE NIGHT!!! UTAH STATE AGAIN PLAYING FOR THE FINAL SHOT!!! WESLEY WITH :05 TO GO!!! DOWN TO :03!!! PUTS IT UP FROM 8 FEET!!!!! HE WINS IT!!!! TAI WESLEY FORCED OT AND NOW HE HAS WON THE GAME FOR THE AGGIES!!!!!!!!!! UNBELIEVABLE!!!! HEARTBREAK CITY FOR CORNELL!!!!! UTAH STATE 88 CORNELL 86 IN AN OVERTIME THRILLER!!! THIS IS APRIL UMM……MADNESS!”
What a game.
#1 Cal vs. #4 Mississippi State
After surviving against Chattanooga the Golden Bears got off to a better start against the Bulldogs. They led 39-38 at halftime and were looking to continue that streak of #1 seeds playing in the regional final. But in the 2nd half it was all Miss. St. The Bulldogs went up by double digits and there would be no miracle for Cal. Jarvis Varnado blocked 7 shots. The entire Cal team had 1. That’s how dominant he was and how poor Cal was on defense. The 76-63 upset win for Mississippi State ensured no #1 seeds would be in the Final Four.
#2 BYU vs. #3 Utah State
Lee Cummard was awesome. He hit an astounding 10-12 from the field, scored 26 points to lead all scorers, and helped BYU win this battle of Utah in the regional semifinal 80-69.
#2 BYU vs. #4 Mississippi State
This Cinderella Bulldogs team contained most of BYU’s squad, including Lee Cummard, who shot just 3-9 from the floor. It was close for most of the game, but hot shooting and clutch free throws meant Mississippi State would be going to the Final Four after pulling off another upset. The Bulldogs win out west! Mississippi State 77 BYU 68.
MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS – WEST REGIONAL CHAMPIONS
Final Four Schedule
#3 West Virginia (Midwest) vs. #4 Mississippi State (West) – 6:07 PM ET
#2 Clemson (South) vs. #3 Minnesota (East) – Approx. 8:47 PM ET
Well done to all of these teams. This would mirror an NIT Final Four quite well!
The Final Four will be posted on Friday! Even sims need a day off. ;-)