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Spring 1998
That Championship Season
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The following day, Easter Sunday, the Irish-Catholic Meyers clan celebrated a national title, daughter Ann’s birthday and the holy day. The more secular-minded Montclair State players headed to Santa Monica beach for a last-chance grab at some Southern California rays. But they forgot the sunscreen. “We used baby oil,” admits Blazejowski. She returned to the East Coast literally a-Blaze with sunstroke.

Blazejowski and Meyers split individual best-player honors, Blazejowski winning the Wade Trophy and Meyers the Broderick Award. Famously humble though she is, Meyers thought she deserved both. “Even today,” she notes, “the sportswriters and networks are on the East Coast.”

Moore, too, was an overnight celebrity. Sports Illustrated optimistically headlined its game story “No. 1 for the Wizardess of Westwood.” But the closest to another title Billie Moore would ever come was the next season when, sans Meyers and Nestor, the Bruins made it back to the Final Four but lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Old Dominion.

Moore and her team could not know it at the time, but their epochal game marked the beginning of a new era in all of women’s collegiate sports. The effects of Title IX, passed by Congress in 1972 mandating that men’s and women’s sports be on equal footing, would eventually revolutionize women’s athletics, increasing scholarships and opportunities to compete and creating a generation of super women athletes undreamed of two decades ago.

Truly the future of women’s basketball looked rosy in 1978, but it still took nearly 20 years for the game to grow to where it now supports not one, but two women’s professional leagues. “I’m not surprised it’s taken this long,” says Denise Curry. “It took forever just for universities to enforce Title IX. There are more opportunities, better coaching and more societal acceptance of women’s sports today, but there are still lots of unresolved gender-equity issues.”

“The opportunities for women to play now are unbelievable,” agrees Ann Meyers, “but women's basketball has another 20 years to go for full acceptance.”

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