Womenís Basketball Team Enjoying Best Year Yet ó
and Itís Not Over

Eagles prepare for NCAA tourney opener tomorrow in Virginia

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer

The Boston College women's basketball team will make its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Championship Tournament tomorrow, playing Nebraska in a first-round game at Charlottesville, Va.

Coach Cathy Inglese's Eagles bring a 25-8 record and No. 1 7 ranking in the USA Today/ESPN Division I poll into the title tournament - the most season victories and highest poll rating in the 28-year history of women's basketball at BC.

"All of us at Boston College are so proud of Cathy, her staff and her team," said Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo. "This is the high point of an absolutely outstanding season for all of them."

The upward surge in the fortunes of BC's women's basketball mirrors the growth in the popularity and visibility of the sport across the nation. "There's no question about that," DeFilippo said. "All you have to do is look at the coverage in USA Today, or the Boston Globe or Boston Herald to see an indication of how far this has all come. The Women's Final Four has become one of the great events in college sports."

(Left to right) Basketball players Becky Gottstein í02, Alissa Murphy í00, Rachel Byars í01, Kim Mackie í02 wait with coaches, teammates and well-wishers Sunday evening in the Shea Room of Conte Forum to find out their seeding in the NCAA tournament. The teamís hopes of hosting first and second-round games were dashed, however, when they were given a fifth-place seed in the 16-team Mideast bracket. (Photo by Justin Knight)

The Eagles were assigned the No. 5 seed in the 16-team Mideast bracket, one of four regional groupings in the 64-team NCAA tournament field. The seeding was a disappointment to many BC fans, who had hoped that the team's strong regular-season showing would have merited one of the top four slots, and a home court advantage for the first two playoff rounds. Inglese, however, was pleased that her team was in the enviable position of knowing that it was definitely going to receive one of the coveted tournament invitations.

"It's a lot like Christmas morning," she said. "You know you are going to get presents, but you don't know just what you are going to get."

As the team's tournament assignment was announced Sunday night on ESPN's national telecast, Inglese declared, "We're ready to go on the road. Now, we just want to win."

Boston College will face the Cornhuskers in the first round on Friday, the first time that the two schools have played. The winner of the BC-Nebraska game will advance to Sunday's second-round game, facing the winner of the Virginia-Pepperdine contest that is also being played in Charlottesville.

One of the key factors in the team's success this season has been the play of senior Cal Bouchard, the Eagles' leading scorer with a 16.0 point-per-game average. The 5-7 guard earned Kodak Di s trict I All-America honors and was named to the All-Big East First Team.

In addition to her on-court accomplishments, Bouchard was recently named the Big East Conference's Women's Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, and received a $2,000 post-graduate scholarship from the league. Bouchard, a native of Aurora, Ontario, is an accounting major in the Carroll School of Management Honors Program, and has been nominated for a Rhodes Scholarship by the University.

Last season, the BC women's team drew its first NCAA bid, travelling to Knoxville, Tenn. to score a first round victory over Ohio State before bowing to host Tennessee in second-round play.

This marks Inglese's fourth trip to the NCAA tournament. While head coach at the University of Vermont, she led the Catamounts to a pair of post-season appearances in 1992 and 1993. She has been head coach at Boston College since the 1993-94 season, and has a 111-89 record in that period.

Inglese has directed the Eagles to four consecutive winning seasons, capped by NCAA tournament invitations in each of the past two years. The 1998-99 team became BC's first women's hoop team to win at least 20 games in a season (22-8) and that record was eclipsed by this season's 25-win performance. This year's team also won all 14 of its home games, outscoring visiting opponents by an average margin of 76.8 to 55.0 in contests played on the Conte Forum court.

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