With four seniors in the starting lineup, you might expect the Cal State Long Beach women's basketball team to take a more business-like approach to the NCAA tournament.
You'd think there would be a sense of urgency among the 49ers, at least for the four who would not have another shot at a national championship, and especially for Kirsten Cummings and Roslind Boger, who suffered through the disappointment of the past two seasons when the 49ers were eliminated in the West Regional final by USC.
Yet, there were the 49ers just minutes before their first-round game against Brigham Young University Saturday night attempting to stage their own slam-dunk contest in warmups.
No one quite got the ball down, but 6-5 center Janet Davis, 6-2 forward Cindy Brown, Cummings and reserve forward Carol Brandt were able to rattle the rim to the the delight of the 1,605 fans in the 49er gym.
It seemed as if Long Beach felt no pressure heading into the game.
And the 49ers played as if there was no pressure.
Third-ranked Long Beach got its fast break going early and raced to a 112-85 victory over the Cougars, a win that puts the 49ers into next Thursday's West Regional semifinal against Western Collegiate Athletic Assn. rival USC.
Long Beach was practically unstoppable in the first half as it built a 62-39 lead, which BYU could only trim to as few as 19 points in the second half.
Right from the opening tip, when Boger took a pass from Brown and made an uncontested layup, the 49ers looked like a varsity team scrimmaging against a JV team.
The Cougars (19-9) entered the contest as the nation's top-scoring team, averaging 90.3 points per game, but BYU won't win any awards for its defense.
The 49ers (27-2) scored almost at will against the Cougars. They got the ball to open players inside the key for easy shots and their jump shots were rarely contested.
Guard Jackie White led five players in double figures with 24 points. Cummings added 20 points and 13 rebounds, Brown had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Brandt, coming off the bench, contributed 14 points and 16 rebounds.
But Boger was, perhaps, the 49ers' best performer Saturday night. She scored 15 points but also had 10 assists and 6 steals, several of which came in the early part of the game when Long Beach moved out to a big lead.
The 49ers shot an impressive 56% from the field, making 47 of 84 shots, while BYU shot just 39% (31 of 78) and turned the ball over 31 times.
And with BYU's nearly nonexistent defense, Long Beach took the opportunity to add a little flare of its own, mixing in several no-look passes on the fast break. For the 49ers, the game was pure enjoyment.
"We were relaxed and very confident out there," Cummings said. "We have so much confidence right now that no one is going to stop us but ourselves."
BYU forward Cindy Battistone scored 26 points, center Tresa Spaulding had 22 and Cathy Nixon added 18 for the Cougars.