Amber Watts gives Anna Montaņana a shot in the mouth. With less than two minutes left in the game that will decide the fate of Ole Miss and George Washington, something has to be done to remind someone that blood comes with winning or losing at this stage.
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On the sideline, the trainer works frantically on Anna's lip. This ain't the time to be pretty; Anna's trying to get back on the court. She's pushing the face work away. Game on the line. They, Anna's Lady Colonials, were down 55-41 less than seven minutes ago; now they are only down by one. There's 1:27 left on the clock.
This is the other side of March Madness that no one pays attention to during the first weekend. You can tell by the emptiness of the seats and the lack of hysteria off the court. You can tell because Mike Patrick's voice is nowhere to be heard. Yet.
Anna sticks her top lip inside of her mouth, sucks some blood. When the ref blows the whistle to re-begin play, she puts a young Miss player on her back, demands the ball, turns around in the lane from 14 feet once she gets it and half-second poses her wrist as the final two of GW's 17-0 run falls through the net. Eighty seconds later, her team goes nuts, screaming, shouting, jumping up and down, just as the men did earlier in the weekend as their teams won.
Only this time, the player of the game, one of the first to give Anna a hug, Kimberly Beck, could only visualize the celebration. The freshman whose nine points, four assists, three steals and one blocked shot were most responsible for giving GW the chance to ball for one more day, is partially deaf in both ears.
Her silence is loud.
But it isn't just Beck. Nobody hears their screams, their screams of passion -- not this early. Not until the Final Four teams meet in one place do the basketball -- and, almost as important, the non-basketball worlds -- act like they know. Yes, there was a 13/4 upset in the first round, just like last year when Middle Tennessee elim'd UNC. But you'd never know. When Liberty University took out the Lady Lions of Penn State, it was the equivalent of Vermont ousting McNamara and Warrick late Friday night. Maybe even bigger. But chauvinism runs the interest in this tournament's early rounds. And unless you're able to play above the rim before April 3, the glass slipper is literally looked at as that: a Carrie Bradshaw Manolo Blahnik glass slipper.
The 6-foot-8 Katie Feenstra, Liberty's center, has the Yao Ming thing at work. She runs the floor as well as Joey Graham and better than any center in the women's tournament. Double-doubles are so normal to her that the school is thinking about changing her uniform math to 22. Twenty-two and 11 is what she posted in her squad's Round 1 victory. She might be the biggest matchup problem in college basketball. And she got less than one minute of airtime on SportsCenter.