March 15, 1999 Vol. III, No. 12

Women's Basketball Team Climaxes Miracle Season

Lady Matadors Win First-Ever Big Sky Conference Title, Big Sky Tournament and NCAA Tournament Bid

Climaxing a miracle season, the Cal State Northridge women's basketball team rebounded from an uncertain start to win their first-ever Big Sky Conference title, Big Sky tournament championship and a trip to the NCAA tournament.

Capping a remarkable 21-7 regular season record, the women's team-which had not had an overall winning record since joining the NCAA Division I nine years ago-clinched the trio of firsts with a 79-65 home victory over Portland State on Saturday, March 6. (left - Team members celebrate their victory over Portland State.) The next day, as the team gathered at the Warner Center Marriott Hotel to watch the televised announcement of their NCAA tournament ranking, CSUN President Blenda J. Wilson revealed that interim head coach Frozena Jerro had been chosen as regular head coach.

"We still have goals we want to achieve," said sophomore guard Edniesha Curry (right- Curry received a plaque as Big Sky Conference Tournament Most Valuable Player from League Ast. Commissioner Ron Loghry). "We've gotten this far as a family and we have to stay together as a family to succeed in the tournament and in the future. Knowing coach will be with us is great news."

With tears streaming down their faces, team members then surrounded Jerro in a group hug. Jerro took a few seconds to collect her thoughts, and said, "You gave me the biggest opportunity of my life. We stood by each other and for each other through a tough season."

The remarkable turnabout came after a season that began with the departure and subsequent resignation of then head coach Michael Abraham. Jerro(left - Jerro celebrates the team's Big Sky championship after a March 6 victory over Portland State) shortly thereafter was named interim head coach and led the team through its best season ever in Division I play. Still, the Lady Matadors drew a No. 15 seed in the 16-team west regional of the NCAA tournament. Their first tournament game was Friday night, March 12, against No. 2 seed Colorado State (31-2) in Fort Collins, Colorado. The game was broadcast on ESPN2 and on KCSN-FM radio.

CSUN records showed only one prior game against Colorado State, a 67-52 loss in December 1992. Also competing along with CSUN in the first round of the NCAA west region tournament were women's basketball teams from UCLA (No. 3), Notre Dame (No. 5), Penn State (No. 8) and UC Santa Barbara (No. 10). The tournament has four regions totaling 64 teams.

Under the NCAA process, teams continue in the tournament as long as they win, but are eliminated with their first loss. The first and second rounds-Friday-Saturday and Sunday-Monday-were played at campus locations prior to the region semifinals this Saturday, March 20.

Last season, the Lady Matadors had a 14-14 overall record and a 9-7 mark in the Big Sky Conference, tying for third place and reaching the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament. The 14-14 record had been the team's best since CSUN moved to the NCAA Division I level in 1990-91. The 1988-89 team had posted a 22-9 mark in Division II play.

Jerro became the team's second assistant coach in July 1997 and spent one season in that capacity. She came to CSUN after having served as the head girls basketball coach at King Junior High School in Berkeley, Calif., during the 1996-97 season.

-Ryan Finney

March 15, 1999

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