Old Dominion Coach Marianne Stanley has preached defense and rebounding to her women's basketball team all year long and in the most important game of the season those lessons paid off for the Monarchs.
"I didn't know we could rebound like we did," said Stanley. "The kids hit the boards very hard. Some players stood out at times, but the contributions from the entire squad at key times was the difference."
With Medina Dixon and Tracy Claxton controlling the backboards (teaming for 35 rebounds) and keying Old Dominion's defense down the stretch, the Monarchs won their first NCAA championship, 70-65, over Georgia before 7,597 at the University of Texas' Super Drum.
No. 4-ranked Old Dominion (31-3) had won AIAW championships in 1979 and 1980.
Dixon scored 18 points and Claxton, who was named the tournament's most valuable player, 17 points.
"The bottom line in this game was rebounding," said Georgia Coach Andy Landers. "Old Dominion did and we didn't. They got a lot of second shots and we didn't. Old Dominion's first shots were the ones we wanted them to take, but they kept getting the second chances they needed."
Georgia (29-5), which was outrebounded 57-30, was severely hampered by the loss of two key players to fouls in the second half -- Olympic team member Teresa Edwards and high-scoring Katrina McClain.
Edwards fouled out with 8:10 to play and McClain three minutes later. Edwards finished with 11 points and McClain eight.
"Part of our game plan was to get Teresa Edwards and Katrina McClain into foul trouble," Stanley said. "We did that, then we rebounded well."
Georgia led, 31-30, at halftime but Old Dominion scored the last eight points with Dixon on the bench with three fouls.
The Monarchs scored the first four points of the second half to take a brief lead that seesawed back and forth from shot to shot.
With the score tied at 59, Old Dominion scored six straight points as Marie Christian scored eight of the Monarchs' last 12 points and totaled 11.
Reserve Traci Waites was the scoring leader for Georgia with 19 points, 13 in the second half. Lisa O'Connor had 10 points, all in the second half.