CMC75 Moments: 1988 Women's Basketball Edges Sagehens to Complete First SCIAC Title
As part of the buildup to the 75th Anniversary celebration for Claremont McKenna College (visit CMC's 75th Anniversary Countdown Page to learn more), we are reliving many of the great moments from CMS athletic department history over the 75-day countdown from April 17 to July 1. If you were a part of this great moment and would like to add to the memories, or if you would like to submit your memories of your own favorite CMS Athletics moment, fill out the form on our main 75th Anniversary page.
Great Moments from 75 Years of Athletics
1987-88 Women's Basketball: Athenas 60, Pomona-Pitzer 58
The CMS women's basketball team had its most successful season in 1987-88 and had already made history heading into the regular season finale. The Athenas stood at 22-3, the first 20-win season for the program (the old record was 16) and had clinched their first-ever SCIAC title.
The one unfinished piece of business was trying to cap off the year with a perfect SCIAC record after dominating league opponents all winter and coming into the finale against Pomona-Pitzer with a 9-0 league mark (and the closest of the nine wins was seven points, in a 76-69 victory over La Verne).
The old expression that you can throw the records out the window when two rivals get together held true, as the Sagehens battled CMS right down to the wire. CMS, though, prevailed in the closing moments with a 60-58 win to cap off a perfect 10-0 SCIAC season, thanks to a strange finish. The score was tied in the closing seconds, and the Sagehens were late coming back out on the floor, eventually resulting in the officials handing the Athenas the ball for a game-winning 5-on-0 fast break.
Julia Hodgkins had 29 points on 13-20 shooting, including the winning basket against a defense that was scrambling to get back on the floor, and added 17 rebounds, capping off a season in which she was named the SCIAC Player of the Year. Stacey McIlroy, who joined Hodgkins on the All-SCIAC first team, chipped in with 17 points, while Lauri Taylor earned a spot on the All-SCIAC second team for the first Athena champions. Hodgkins and McIlroy have both been inducted into the CMS Hall of Fame.
Winning that championship was a really big deal for us. It meant everything to win and it was such a special experience and it was a game-changer for the program and the team was able to carry it on the next season and beyond.
The game was tied at 58-58 and Pomona-Pitzer had called a timeout. We came back out on the court to resume play after the timeout but Pomona-Pitzer was still in their huddle, so the ref blew his whistle. They still didn't come out of the huddle so he blew his whistle again. They still didn't come out. So the ref just dropped the ball in front of our inbounder who passed it to me near half court on the left wing.
Pomona-Pitzer still wasn't on the court, so I just dribbled in for a lay-up while their players were running back out, which was funny because in most circumstances as a post, I just didn't dribble. It was like Shaq dribbling the ball, but that was me with the left-handed lay-up. Pomona-Pitzer had a half-court shot at the buzzer that clanked off the rim so we won.
Considering we had so many ups and downs over my four seasons, the fact that we were a team that had so much trust in each other, we knew that we were going to win every game. It was a really special, well balanced team. If someone was off, someone else would pick them up and if were down, we knew we would come back.
1987-88 Women's Basketball Roster
Head Coach: Jodie Burton
Assistant Coach: Julie Curtis
Adele Alvarez (Fr., Forward, CMC)
Debbie Avery (So., Forward, CMC)
Kelly Causey (Jr., Guard, Scripps)
Kerry Causey (Jr., Guard, Scripps)
Julia Hodgkins (Sr., Forward, Scripps)
Stacey McIlroy (So., Guard, CMC)
Betsy Means (Jr., Forward, CMC)
Katrina Polaski (So., Forward, CMC)
Suzanne Shriner (Jr., Forward, CMC)
Tracy Sullivan (So., G/F, CMC)
Lauri Taylor (Fr., Forward, CMC)