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NCAAW Basketball – 1986 – NCAA Womens Championship Game – Texas Lady Longhorns VS USC Women Of Troy


The 1986 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournamentbegan on March 12 and ended on March 30. The tournament expanded to 40 teams from 32….as the Final Four included Texas, Tennessee, Western Kentucky, and USC….with Texas defeating Southern California, 97-81 in the championship game ….as Texas’s Clarissa Davis was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament….for with their championship win….Texas completed the first undefeated season (34-0) since the NCAA began sponsoring women’s basketball in 1982.   

After earning a # 1 national ranking in 1984….the Texas Lady Longhorns stumbled in the regional’s finals to national power Louisiana Tech,….but the 1985 Texas team seemed poised for a better result….for not only did the team earn another top # 1 national ranking, but they entered the NCAA Tournament knowing that if they reached the Final Four, they would have the home court advantage at their own Frank Erwin Center.  Home court would play a big part….but not the part hoped for by the Lady Horns….cuz in the regional semi-finals in a game played at the home court of Western Kentucky University ….the Hilltoppers stymied the Longhorn’s hopes with a 92–90 victory.

The Lady Longhorns would again return to the 1986 tournament viewed as one of the top teams in the nation and were once again ranked # 1 in the nation…..but they still did not have a Final Four NCAA appearance on their resume….as this 1986 Texas team won their first game easil…. then continued to the regional….which was this time on their own home court in Austin….where tey dispatched Oklahoma easily….then struggled against Mississippi….who were trying to prevent the team from a Final Four yet again. This time, Texas prevailed and beat Mississippi by three points to head to their first NCAA Final Four….where their opponent in the semifinal was none other than Western Kentucky….who had denied them the previous year. This time, the result would be very different….as the Longhorns beat Western Kentucky easily by a score of 90 – 65.    

The other semifinal pitted Tennessee Lady Vols against USC Women of Troy….whose Cheryl Miller was the best player in the country after leading USC to the National Championship in 1984….after which Miller went on to play for the USA national team and helped the USA win the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics.  This 1986 season was Miller’s senior year at USC….and the game between Tennessee and USC was a rematch of a physical game played in December….in which Miller was thrown out of a cose game that USC won 85 – 77 after throwing an elbow….but in this NCAA tournament semifinal rematch….Miller would again come out of the game….but under very different circumstances… cuz this time she was worried about getting hurt….and with a 70–51 lead….she didn’t need to stay in a game easily won by USC 83 – 59.    

That set up this championship game seen in this video herewith between USC and undefeated Texas. Texas had a team that was very deep….but had suffered a number of injuries during the year. The game was close early with the Trojans leading at times in the first half….but Texas went on a 10–2 run to take a seven-point lead….as Cheryl Miller would have one of her worst games in her career. Although she scored 16 points….twelve of those were from the free throw line….as she was only 2 for 11 from the field….without a single point in the second half. In contrast, Texas’ Clarissa Davis came off the bench to score 25 and earn Most Outstanding Player honors….even though USC’s Cynthia Cooper scored 27 points.  The Lady Longhorns of Texas would win this national championship game by a score of 97 – 81….and would thus  complete the first undefeated season in NCAA history….which makes this game MUST SEE TV for any and all women’s basketball fans.

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