A Look Back: Lady Techsters New National Champions
Jan. 9, 2011
Louisiana Tech will be hosting a reunion for players, coaches and support staff from the Lady Techster three national title teams on Saturday, Jan. 22. LATechSports.com takes a look back at those games through the timely writing of Ruston Daily Leader Sports Editor Buddy Davis, who covered all three title games.
A reunion luncheon will be held on Saturday, Jan. 22 at Squire Creek Country Club as Tech fans wishing to attend can call Barb Swart at the Marbury Alumni House at 318-255-7950. Sonja Hogg, Pam Kelly, Angela Turner, Lori Scott, Teresa Weatherpoon and other Techsters have already confirmed their return for the event.
(March 30, 1981)
EUGENE, Ore. - Louisiana Tech's Lady Techsters knocked on the door for the past two years.
Those "Basketball Darlings of Ruston" finally captured the national AIAW championship which had eluded them for the past two seasons here Sunday afternoon by socking Tennessee 79-59.
It was the fitting finale to a super season for the Lady Techsters, who closed out with the nation's only perfect record at 34-0.
Ranked No.1 in the country all year long, Tech provided the University with its first national athletic championship since 1978 when the powerlifting team won their title.
The Lady Techsters also had the annual tournament's Most Valuable Player in junior guard Angela Turner who scored 16 points in Sunday's victory.
Tech became the first team to go undefeated and win an AIAW championship since Delta State's super club of 1975.
"I know the people in Ruston are dancing in the streets right now," said head coach Sonja Hogg after the win. "Of course we've got plenty of fans here in Eugene, too. It's just a dream come true for the many fine people who have helped us achieve this goal. It's great for Ruston, great for the University and great for the entire state."
For Hogg and the coaching staff, players and fans it was tough to hod back tears of joy after the victory.
"We played together all during the game," said associate head coach Leon Barmore of Tech. "Never once were we out of position on defense and the players did the things they were supposed to do. They paid the price to win. They've been working for so many months and now it's all paid off."
For the most part, Tech dominated the game, which was nationally televised by NBC-TV. Tennessee did lead in the first six minutes, but Tech quickly regained the advantage midway through the first half and were never to trail afterwards.
Tech scored nine unanswered points - Turner was super accurate from the outside - to take a 21-12 lead with 9:09 left in the half. The Lady Vols could never catch up again.
The closest Tennessee could get ther rest of the game was 10 points.
"More than any other game this year," noted Barmore, "we had the right combinations working for us. We played well on offense, constantly taking the ball straight to the basket, and keeping them from getting the good shots with our defense."
While MVP Turner was burning the nets from the outside super freshman Janice Lawrence (16) and two-time all-American Pam Kelly (15) were hurting the Vols inside.
Combine that with the uncanny passing of Houdini rookie Kim Mulkey (seven assists); the floor leadership of sophomore Jennifer White; the shooting of sophomore Lori Scott (nine points); and the rebounding of freshman Debra Rodman (10) and it was an unstoppable combination for the Lady Techsters.
"What's really depressing," said head coach Pat Head Summitt of Tennessee, "is that Tech has everybody back next year. They're a great team and they just outplayed us. We never were able to get back in the game after the early part of the first half when they got the lead, they just seemed to get more momentum."
Tech began by leading by 10 or more points after Lawrence sank four straight points in the last four minutes of the first half.
"It really wasn't a typical Tech game," said Lawrence, "because we were behind at one time. Had it been typical, we wouldn't have been behind."
Tech's defense held Tennessee to only a 43 shooting percentage, adding to a streak in which they have held the opposition below 50 percent in every game this year.
Tech also increased its record this year against top 20 teams to 15-0 with Tennessee (25-6) having entered as No. 2. The Lady Vols were the preseason choice of Sports Illustrated to win the national championship.
"One of our main incentives against Tennessee this year," said White, who was born in the Volunteer State, "was to prove Sports Illustrated was wrong about who had the best team in the nation."
Tech whipped Tennessee 77-53 earlier this year and leads the overall series 4-1.
"The players have been called upon to do a lot of things this year and to work extremely hard this year," said Barmore. "They certainly responded well. They have put in a lot time in both the classroom and in basketball and have been extremely dedicated."
Tech is the first national championship team to win the title without any seniors.
"Now I guess we're in the same situation as Old Dominion is the last two years," commented Hogg. "Everybody will really be coming after us now. It's maybe easier getting to be No. 1 than to stay No. 1."
Barmore noted that, "Now our next goal is to win it again. The players must realize they have the ability and talent to win it again."
Turner's receiving of the MVP award resulted from her 30-point and nine-rebound total in the two tourney games.
"We're certainly glad to see Angela win that award after getting overlooked on the all-America team," said Barmore. "You can't convince me that she's not one of the best 10 players in the nation."
When Tech held a 16-point lead 2 ½ minutes of play left, the approximately 200 fans present began chanting "We're No. 1."
"I really felt we had it won with about three minutes left to play," said Hogg. "Even with three minutes left you can't relax against a team like Tennessee. They can score two or three buckets and be right back in the game."
Tech's stubborn defense did a particularly outstanding job inside, a limiting all-American and Olympian Cindy Noble to only eight points and four rebounds.
"We kept our composure very well and everybody did a good job on defense. We definitely came to play."
Tech finished No. 2 in the national tourney two years ago and was No. 4 last year.
On Sunday they were No. 1.
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