That Championship Season
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Bruins-Cal State L.B. game is still considered one of the most remarkable
contests UCLA has ever fought. Its hero was Anita Ortega. With five
seconds on the clock, Long Beach in possession and the Bruins down
74-72 on their way to another heartbreaking postseason defeat, the
Juice stole the ball and raced for a regulation-ending layup. The
game went into overtime. In the extra period, Meyers and Nestor
scored field goals and Curry made a free throw. But Long Beach fought
back to make it a one-point game. Then, with six seconds on the
clock, Cal State’s hot-shooting Lynn Stith got open for a can’t-miss
12-footer. She missed.
was The Game,” exalts Sondheimer. “After that, we were a team of
Bruins defeated Nevada Las Vegas to win the regional and then beat
Brigham Young and Stephen F. Austin in the sectional tournament.
That put UCLA in the Final Four on its home court -- where the women
hadn’t lost in the 30 games since Moore’s Fullerton team beat them
UCLA didn’t enter the Final Four as the favorite. That burden fell
to Wayland Baptist, the Plainview, Texas, school that had given
women players scholarships even before the AIAW allowed them. And
then if Wayland faltered, there was still Maryland, which had already
beaten UCLA and knocked number-one-ranked Tennessee out of the tournament.
could underdog Montclair State, UCLA’s opponent in the semifinal,
be counted out. The scrappy bunch from Jersey was the only Final
Four team not on scholarship, but they had upset Maryland earlier
in the season.
Montclair players could barely afford to make the trip to California.
“I remember selling everything that wasn’t nailed down,” says the
team’s legendary senior forward Carol Blazejowski, the greatest
scorer in the history of the women’s game.
folks borrowed money to come to L.A.”