As avid fans of collegiate women’s basketball, it was a no brainer that the Shelly Beach and I would be attending the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Bowling Green.
We bought tickets for the two games on Sunday (Ohio State vs. Florida and Baylor vs. UCSB) and the followup game on Tuesday between the winners. Our seats were six rows up and almost directly behind the basket; almost identical to the ones we had on our first visit to the Stroh Center earlier in the year to watch the Toledo men play BGSU.
Ohio State Let Down
The OSU game was kind of a drag. They didn’t look as if they really cared about winning or losing until there was less than three minutes remaining in the game and by that point the scoring margin was wide enough that defeat was inevitable.
I was convinced, with the score of the OSU/Florida game being what it was, that most of the fans in the crowd would disperse like Ohio State t-shirt wearing rats fleeing a sinking ship. With about ten minutes to go in the second half, the Baylor team came out to watch a bit of the game from the stands. I changed my tune the instant that Brittney Griner came out to thunderous applause just for taking a seat in the bleachers with her teammates. No one was going anywhere.
Brittney Griner and More Cowbell
Unfortunately, neutral fans cheering for tall girls would be disappointed in the second game of the afternoon. The layup line before the game was fun as Brittney Griner dunked each time to rounds of blue-haired applause. The game itself was a different story. It was a slaughter and we left halfway through the second half when it became clear that Griner and the rest of the starters probably weren’t going to see any more action.
There weren’t many Griner highlights in her 20 odd minutes of play aside from some nice blocks. The most entertaining part of the game was probably the UC Santa Barbara band and their weird chants. Oh, and the fact that they all wear cheap looking Gaucho costumes in honor of the school’s mascot.
We learned after the fact that part of the UCSB band was comprised of Bowling Green Pep Band members as Santa Barbara didn’t have the desire or the means to fly their entire pep band from California to the wastelands of northwest Ohio. Although sources indicated the UCSB cowbell player, who played that cowbell with a ferocious intensity, was actually an honest Gaucho who flew over 2,300 miles to bang on a farm implement for two hours. College athletics, everybody!
On Tuesday Nights in BG, Things Start to Get Real
We had the same seats from Sunday for the Tuesday night Baylor vs. Florida game. The Baylor girls wore warmups that said “NCAA CHAMPIONS 2005″ on the back. I can’t decide if that was charming or not. There was some pre-teen kid sitting in front of us wearing a home white Brittney Griner jersey. He sat in front of us on Sunday and cheered for Ohio State but now he had sworn his allegiance to a female giant from the west. I had no problem deciding this was, in fact, not charming at all.
Florida came out looking like the same Ohio State team they had beaten a few days earlier: totally disinterested in putting forth any effort to win. The score wasn’t as lopsided as the Baylor vs. UCSB game but it wasn’t very close as the teams went into the break.
Shortly after the second half started this happened right in front of us:
At the time of this dunk (only the third ever in NCAA Women’s Tournament history) it wasn’t clear from our angle how neat this was. I was actually 100% unimpressed at the time, to be honest. We couldn’t get a good grip on just how far away from the rim Griner was when she made her move. So kudos to you, Brittney Griner. Nice dunk.
We stayed for the entire game this time in case there was any more hot basketball dunking action. And because the Baylor coach refused to bench her starters until the final minute despite their commanding lead. Also, the Florida coach was really intense about calling timeouts and conserving clock even though any kind of comeback at that point was highly unlikely and would have probably gone down as one of the greatest achievements in sports history.
In summation, we had a good time in Bowling Green watching ladies basketball and I would do it again if the Stroh Center were to host opening round games in the future.