COSTA MESA — Julie Murdent, a sophomore forward at Golden West College, says there are no secrets behind her recent scoring outburst. She knows exactly what led her to 30 points in one playoff game, then a career-high 42 in another last week.
She said she is more relaxed now than at any time in her basketball life. Much of the tension that bothered her in recent weeks is gone.
Murdent's first step on the path to low anxiety was to decide on where she was going to play next season. She made an oral commitment to the University of San Francisco.
"I really wanted to play at a Division I (school)," she said. "I made up my mind that if I didn't, I wouldn't play anymore."
Next, she quit her part-time job as a supervisor at a local amusement center. "I was stressed out and I didn't know why," she said. "But once I quit, I felt so much better. I had no idea how much the job got to me."
Finally, she came to grips with the fact that she might not set the Golden West all-time scoring record. But once she stopped fretting, she scored so many points that she probably will break the mark when the Rustlers (29-5) play San Mateo (24-4) at 6 tonight at Orange Coast College in the first round of the State tournament.
Murdent enters with 1,302 points, 11 short of the record of 1,313 held by Jill Guthrie (1981-83). Murdent, who is 6 feet 1, is averaging 21 points and nine rebounds.
"I finally realized that it was OK if I didn't set the record," Murdent said. "Ever since the start of conference play, I was just sort of moping around on offense. Now, I have my scorer's mentality back."
That Murdent felt she was "moping" during Orange Empire Conference play is news to her opponents. She averaged 18 points, nine rebounds and was selected the conference's most valuable player.
"She has started going to the basket more in recent games," Golden West Coach Dick Stricklin said. "That, and she is working hard on rebounding and she is also getting more points because of that."
Although taller than most players when she played at Fountain Valley High, Murdent felt more comfortable shooting from about 10 to 12 feet out, and she was good at it. She developed her outside touch in her driveway, where she had a rule that she couldn't quit until she made a shot from each corner.
It wasn't until she got to Golden West that Murdent, with the help of Stricklin, began working on her post moves.
"I never drove to the basket in high school," Murdent said. "I couldn't score at all from the inside."
Still, she had enough success in high school to get a scholarship offer from Cal State Northridge, which she planned to accept. That changed when Murdent got a call from Cinnamon Basco, who played with Murdent in high school and who had gone to Golden West.
Basco, currently playing at UC Riverside, encouraged Murdent to give Golden West a chance.
"I could see that Cinnamon had improved 100% at Golden West," Murdent said. "So I decided to go there too."
This is the ninth consecutive trip to the State tournament for Golden West, which lost in the title game to Los Angeles Harbor last season. Deana Itow, a sophomore guard, is averaging 15 points, nine assists and six rebounds for Golden West. Farrah Magee is averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds and Nicole Quinn is at 10 points and six rebounds for the Rustlers, who have won 16 in a row. Katie Miner averages nine points and nine rebounds.
In the other first-round games: Sequoias (28-4) plays Los Angeles Harbor (30-6) at 2 p.m., Merritt (36-1) plays Canyons (30-5) at 4 p.m., and Siskiyous (16-12) plays Ventura (27-2) at 8 p.m. The semifinals are 6 and 8 p.m. Friday. The title game is at 7 p.m. Saturday. . . . The State all-star game is 5 p.m. Saturday. Colleen Riley, who retired in 1994 from Fullerton, will coach the South all-star team. Riley compiled a record of 559-147 in 25 seasons at Fullerton, including 15 consecutive conference titles. America Robledo of Orange Coast will play on the South team. . . . Admission is $5 each day of the tournament for adults and $3 for students and children. An all-tournament pass is $10.