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That Championship Season

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Spring 1998
That Championship Season
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The match between Montclair and UCLA was headlined as a mano-a-mano contest between “Blaze” and Meyers, the two best women players in the game. The hype drew 7,822 spectators to Pauley, though the large turnout was owing in part to the men’s basketball team, which had lost in its regionals, forcing fevered Bruin hoops fans to pin their championship hopes on the women instead.

The game delivered all that was promised. Blazejowski scored 40 and Meyers 19, along with 14 rebounds and eight assists. The Bruins hadn’t expected to extinguish the Blaze, even with Meyers defending her, but they held the rest of the team to just 37 points. Curry and Nestor, meanwhile, fed by the Meyers-led fast break, each scored 22. The Bruins prevailed, 85-77. In the other semi, Wayland Baptist led most of the game against the Maryland Terrapins. But Wayland’s deadeye center, 6'3" Jill Rankin, fouled out guarding Terrapin freshman center Kris Kirchner and the Flying Queens ended up losing, 90-85. Two nights later, the once-favored Wayland women dropped the third-place consolation game in overtime, 90-88, as Blazejowski put on another remarkable show with 41 points.

The final showdown was set between Maryland and UCLA. March 25th dawned bright and cloudless. “It was a clear, warm, perfect California day,” recalls Colleen Matsuhara, Moore’s assistant coach. “And when I came into the arena that night, I felt a ton of electricity in the air.”

Indeed, as the Bruins walked along the side of the court to the Pauley dressing room while Wayland and Montclair played the consolation game, the crowd caught sight of them and broke into a roar. “I knew then that I didn’t have to do anything special to motivate my players,” remarks Moore.

Meyers finished with nearly a quadruple double: 20 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and eight steals. Coach Billie Moore pulled her out with little more than a minute left in the game so that one of the best women players in basketball history could enjoy a final farewell from the emotional crowd. But Meyers, ever-competitive, didn’t want to come off the court and barely noticed the standing ovation.

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