Women's basketball: 1982 Louisiana Tech, first NCAA title team, finally get its rings
NEW YORK — Way before UConn dominated women's basketball, there was Louisiana Tech.
The Lady Techsters won the first NCAA tournament title in 1982 and had a 54-game winning streak. The team finally received its championship rings from that inaugural title last weekend. Baylor coach Kim Mulkey was the point guard on that early dynasty but couldn't be at the ceremony because her second-ranked Baylor Lady Bears had a game in Kansas.
She finally got her ring this past week.
"Yeah, I wish I could have been there ... happy for everybody," Mulkey said. "We had a heck of a team back then, the early '80s, pretty dominant."
Nine of the 14 players that are still alive were at the ceremony, including Deb Williamson — the current coordinator of officials for the Big East, American and Atlantic 10 Conferences.
"I think it came at the perfect time," she said. "I think that when you get into your 50s it means so much more now, our families can enjoy it with us. I wouldn't have chosen to wait 35 years, we already lost one teammate and a lot of the people who supported us back then aren't around anymore."
Williamson said the group went to dinner afterward and shared stories of how they were recruited. Amazingly none of the former players knew each other's recruitment stories until that dinner.
They did remember the remarkable run they had winning the 1981 AIAW championship and then the NCAA one.
"The year before we went 34-0, and LA Tech made rings for us. When we transitioned to the NCAA that year, we lost one game I think, we were on a 54-game winning streak," Williamson said. "When we won [the NCAA title], no one talked about the rings. We didn't pay that much attention to that. They gave us watches that had the NCAA logo on it. We thought maybe a ring would come later. It wasn't a big deal then."
Other things that happened this week:
REMEMBERING SUMMITT: This past week was the fourth annual "We Back Pat" week where schools raise Alzheimer's awareness. This year, the Lady Vols' week started with a thrilling upset of No. 6 Notre Dame on Monday.
REBOUND MACHINE: Chantal Osahor grabbed a Pac-12-record 30 rebounds on Sunday in a win over Washington State.
The senior center came into the game leading the nation in rebounding and became the 12th player in NCAA history to have that many boards in a game.
"I feel like I kind of just do that every game," Osahor said. "A lot of them came to me today. I don't know how well [they] shot from the floor, but there was a lot of rebounds to get."
PARTING WAYS: Women's basketball coach Jody Adams-Birch will not return to Wichita State, the school announced Sunday.
Adams-Birch was replaced as the team's head coach Thursday as athletic director Darron Boatright reviewed the program. She missed Friday and Sunday's games. Boatright said in a statement from the school that the two sides parted "mutually and amicably."
Linda Hargrove, the former WSU coach from 1989-1998, will run the program for the remainder of the season, Boatright said.
TAKING A BREAK: Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant took a medical leave of absence this week, the school announced.
The 10th-year coach experienced similar conditions after a game at Rutgers as she did when she fainted on the sidelines during a victory over Illinois earlier this month. Associate head coach Amaka Agugua filled in for the 47-year-old Merchant this week.
IT AIN'T OVER TILL ITS OVER: Villanova coach Harry Perretta has seen a lot in his 39 years at the school.
Still, there haven't been many times that his team trailed by 22 points in the second half and rallied to win. The Wildcats were down 41-19 to Butler early in the third quarter on Friday before pulling off a stunning 70-69 overtime victory.
SHOOT TILL YOUR ARM FALLS OFF: DePaul and Marquette put on quite an offensive display in the Golden Eagles' 102-101 victory on Friday night. It was the fifth time in Big East history that two teams scored over 100 points in the same game. The last came when Georgetown beat Providence 115-106 on Jan. 5, 1992.
MILESTONES: Muffet McGraw won her 750th game at Notre Dame on Sunday. She is 838-267 overall as a coach. ... Coach Joe Tartamella won his 100th game at St. John's. ... Oregon freshman Sabrina Ionescu set the single-season school record with her third triple-double on Sunday. She also matched the Ducks' career mark set by Bev Smith. She's only two short of the Pac-12 record for a season set by Nicole Powell in 2001-02. Powell also owns the conference's career mark with six.
AP Basketball Writer Stephen Hawkins from Waco, Texas contributed to this story.
This article was written by Doug Feinberg from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.