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COLLEGE DIVISION NOTEBOOK / MARTIN BECK

Vanguards Have Exceeded Expectations

March 04, 1994|MARTIN BECK

Southern California College women's basketball Coach Dean Cooper had fairly modest expectations for the Vanguards before this season.

Cooper, in his second year as SCC coach, looked at the schedule and figured winning 18 or 19 games would be a good finish for the Vanguards, who qualified for their first postseason appearance in 1992-93.

"I thought it would take three years at least to turn it around," Cooper said. "I felt there was a good nucleus here and if I could pick up a few more players, we could be decent."

Turns out the Vanguards are much better than that. They won their 20th game with four games remaining in the regular season and have gone on from there. Wednesday, the Vanguards (24-7) won their first playoff game in the 15 years of the school's women's basketball program.

Third-seeded SCC beat Cal Baptist, 80-57, in the first round of the Golden State Athletic Conference playoffs Wednesday and play at No. 2-seeded Azusa Pacific in the semifinals today. No. 5 Point Loma Nazarene, which beat Concordia, 72-71, plays at top-seeded Fresno Pacific.

The winners will play for the title March 9 at the home court of the team with the higher seeding. The conference champion receives an automatic berth in the NAIA national championship, March 16-22 in Jackson, Tenn.

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SCC split its games with Azusa Pacific (20-9), beating the Cougars, 71-48, at home and losing, 73-70, at Azusa. Azusa Pacific is a strong team that leads the conference is rebounding, so Cooper expects a physical game.

"It's going to be a tough ballgame," Cooper said. "Especially on their floor. They play pretty tough there, but I think we are certainly capable of beating them."

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Gitte Mejer, a senior center from Aarhus, Denmark, completed her four-year career at Concordia by scoring 29 points in the loss to Point Loma Nazarene.

Mejer, 6 feet 2, was named Golden State Athletic Conference player of the year for a third consecutive season after leading the conference in scoring (24.6) and shooting percentage (63%) and was second in rebounding (9.8). She was named conference player of the week four of the eight times it was awarded.

"She's just a step above everybody else," Concordia Coach Sharon Campbell said. "When we (conference coaches) voted Sunday night, we didn't even have a debate."

Concordia, which won the previous two conference titles (1991-92 and 1992-93) and advanced to consecutive NAIA national tournaments, started the season slowly, losing its first four games. But after some midseason adjustments by Campbell, the Eagles improved steadily but were hampered by several key injuries and illnesses and finished fourth in the conference with a 5-5 record.

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Turns out Ila Borders wasn't the first woman to pitch in a college baseball game, USA Today Baseball Weekly reported this week.

Although the NCAA and NAIA had no record of anyone before Borders, the newspaper reported that Jodi Haller pitched in 1990 for St. Vincent's College, an NAIA school in Latrobe, Pa. Haller, also left-handed, has since transferred to Shippensburg (Pa.) State, where she was cut from the baseball team last fall. No statistics are available for her season with St. Vincent's.

So Borders is now believed to be the fourth woman to play collegiate baseball and the second to pitch.

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