RALEIGH, N.C. - Before Augusta State played Georgia College & State in the final of the South Atlantic Regional, the Lady Jaguars got together - no coaches allowed - and talked about how to beat the Lady Bobcats.
Whatever they talked about - it worked, as Augusta State thrashed Georgia College & State 91-68 at Spaulding Gymnasium to move on to its first appearance in the Elite Eight.
"The last time we played Georgia College, we were kind of at each other's throats," said Brandi Hollingsworth, who scored 12 points in the win.
"We knew that we had to pull together to do something big. That's what the meeting are about.
"We need to love each other inside the court and we know if we come together, we can achieve a lot of stuff."
"Stuff" doesn't quite capture what the eighth-seeded Jaguars have been able to do. On Friday, they became the first team to beat No. 1 seed Shaw (28-3) in the Bears' gym since 2001. On Saturday, they outlasted fifth-seeded Armstrong Atlantic State. Now they have gone further in the NCAA Tournament than any Augusta State team before it.
Georgia College & State (28-6) beat Augusta State twice this season - 81-69 on Feb. 7 and 68-47 in the Peach Belt Tournament on March 4. This time, Augusta State was able to break the Lady Bobcats' press for the first time and establish its own pace.
Tournament most outstanding player Alshaa' Hodges scored 33 points, making ridiculous shots like an off-balance 3-pointer as the shot clock expired with 2:33 left in the second half. She only had time to catch the pass and chucked the shot as she turned to the basket.
"In coaching intercollegiate athletics, sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you," Georgia College & State coach John Carrick said. "The bear got us tonight.
"If it wasn't the worst game we've had all year, it was just very, very close. It just wasn't in the cards for us. How many times (did they) throw up shots at the end of the 30-second clock they went in? The rolls that when in for them and the rolls that never went it for us, you just have to accept it."
In the first half, Hollingsworth sunk a similar shot with 4:26 to go, giving the Lady Jaguars a 35-32 lead they never relinquished.
"I think this is a team of overachievers," Augusta State coach Greg Wilson said. "They are really feeding off of each other and know each other's tendencies backwards and forwards. We only had four returnees last year. It takes a season to get seasoned. I think that's what you saw. We're peaking at the right time and feeding off of each other."