It is not difficult to see why the Cal Poly Pomona women's basketball team is the overwhelming favorite to win the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. post-season tournament that starts tonight at Bakersfield Civic Auditorium.
After all, the Broncos have won the previous two conference tournaments and have won seven regular-season titles in a row. Not to mention that they have reached the NCAA Division II finals five of the last six years.
Then there is Pomona's record this season compared to the other teams in the four-team tournament. The Broncos are 24-3 and ranked No. 3 in Division II, having completed a 12-0 regular conference season. The other teams in the tournament are Cal State Los Angeles and Cal State Northridge, both at 14-12, and Chapman at 14-11.
In tonight's first-round match-ups, Pomona meets fourth-seeded Chapman at 8:30 after second-seeded Northridge faces Cal State L.A. in the opener at 6. The final will be at 6 p.m. Saturday at Bakersfield City College.
Pomona, which has not lost since a 76-50 defeat to Division I-level San Diego State on Jan. 12, will take a 13-game winning streak into the game.
The Broncos also figure to regain the services of their leading scorer, point guard Cathy Gooden. The 5-5 junior, who led the conference in scoring with an average of 18.8, missed the team's final two games because of flu.
In addition, Pomona is paced on offense by 6-2 sophomore center Niki Bracken and 6-1 junior forward Marcine Edmonds. Bracken is averaging 15.7 points and 7.1 rebounds and Edmonds averages 15.4 points and has a conference-leading 60.2% field-goal percentage. The Broncos also have a strong floor leader in 5-8 senior guard Paula Tezak, who averages 5.4 points, 6.9 rebounds and 7.2 assists.
Pomona's first-round opponent, Chapman, has given the Broncos two of their closest games in CCAA regular-season play. The Panthers, who lost by scores of 75-63 and 74-65, also have two outstanding guards in senior Karan Polk (5-4) and junior Corine Sandfry (5-8).
The other opening match-up in the tournament has the makings of a close game considering that Northridge and Cal State L.A. have split their first two meetings. Northridge won the first game, 63-48, Jan. 15 but the Golden Eagles won the second, 70-55, Feb. 9 and have won five of their last six CCAA games to head into the tournament with momentum.
The Golden Eagles, making their first appearance in the post-season tournament, have been led by 6-0 junior center Lupe Quintana, 6-0 sophomore forward Tina Slatinsky and 5-10 senior forward Sue Doody. Quintana is averaging 15.1 points and 11 rebounds, Slatinsky 12.3 points and 6.4 rebounds and Doody 11.4 points and 7.2 rebounds.
Northridge's top players have been twin sisters Kathleen and Marianne Dixon. Kathleen (6-1) averages 12.9 points and 5.3 rebounds and Marianne (6-0) 11.9 points and 5.6 rebounds.
After successfully defending its Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps men's basketball team has earned a berth in the NCAA Division III West Regional starting Friday at Dubuque College in Iowa.
The Stags, who have a 19-6 overall record and are making their second straight appearance in the Division III playoffs, will meet host Dubuque in their opener Friday. Dubuque, seeded No. 2 in the tournament, is 20-6. In the other first-round game, top-seeded Nebraska Wesleyan (20-5) faces St. John's of Minnesota (18-9).
Claremont has been led by 6-0 senior guard Todd Thomas, an all-conference player who averages 24 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6 assists. Three other standouts for the Stags are 6-1 guard Chris Dibble, 6-3 forward Mike Larson and 6-7 center Mike Dawe.
Stacy Bekemeyer, an All-Seaview League performer at Estancia High School, has signed a national letter of intent to play women's volleyball at Cal Poly Pomona next season.
"It's a pleasure to have a player of her caliber join the program," Pomona Coach Paul Gabriel said of the 6-1 middle hitter. "We expect some big things from her."