wo-time defending national champion Louisiana Tech will match its controlled style of play against the fast-break game of second-ranked Southern California for the NCAA championship Sunday at 2:30 p.m. (WDVM-TV-9) at the Scope.
The Techsters (31-1) reached their third straight title game by downing host Old Dominion, 71-55, Friday night. The Trojans (30-2) had defeated Georgia, 81-57, before a semifinal record crowd of 8,866.
The final should be a lot closer. Tech and USC have been ranked 1-2 since preseason and split two regular-season meetings. Southern Cal won, 64-58, in Ruston, La., in December, one of two losses for the Techsters in their last 102 tests. Louisiana Tech got even, 58-56, in California in January. Two years ago, Tech beat USC, 66-50, in an AIAW national semifinal.
The Trojans still rely heavily on the junior McGee twins, Pam (18.8 points, 10.1 rebounds) and all-America Paula (19.2, 9.3) but USC also starts two wonderful freshmen, 6-2 forward Cheryl Miller (20.2 points, 9.7), and 5-5 point guard Rhonda Windham (six assists a game). The fifth starter, sophomore guard Cynthia Cooper, strained her neck Friday and may be replaced by senior Kathy Doyle, a career starter until injuring her knee in December.
Louisiana Tech lost Wade Trophy (top player) winner Pam Kelly and Angela Turner, the school's all-time scoring leaders, from the 1981 and 1982 title teams. Co-Coach Leon Barmore said, "Last year's team was the best I've ever seen. I don't know how we could have played much better this year, having lost two of the best players in America and with no freshmen among our top eight."
The top eight include junior center Debra Rodman (13.3, 10.7), sophomore reserve Pam Gant (9.0) and seniors Lori Scott (13.2, 6.3), Jennifer White and Tia Sossamon, who have been in the final four every year (Tech was fourth in '80).
All-America junior forward Janice Lawrence (20.8, 9.2) leads the Tech offense, orchestrated by Kim Mulkey, a 5-4 playmaker who averages fewer than seven points a game, but just as many assists. Mulkey was MVP in the 1982 championship triumph over Cheyney State.
Windham directs a run, run, run game, rarely using more than 10 seconds a possession.
"The (fast pace) is a big part of our game," USC Coach Linda Sharp said. "It's very important for our defense to create the tempo. We score a lot of points getting the ball out quickly into the transition game."
Barmore said, "I wouldn't try to keep up with them for an entire game. You can't match up with them. They can all score and shoot. Dangdest thing I've ever seen."