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Sportscope : Bronco Women Favored in Basketball Tourney

Cal Poly Pomona’s women’s basketball team has yet to lose a game in the three years that the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. Tournament has been played, and the Broncos are the top seed again when competition starts tonight at Poly Pavilion in Pomona.

The Broncos, 22-5 overall record and ranked No. 2 nationally in NCAA Division II, will face fourth-seeded Cal State Los Angeles (17-11) in their first-round game at 8 after second-seeded and 17th-ranked Cal State Northridge (20-7) meets Chapman (13-12) at 6.

First-round winners will meet for the championship at 6 p.m. Saturday at Riverside Community College.

It is the second time in less than a week that Pomona has faced Cal State L.A.. The Broncos rolled to a 90-59 victory over the Golden Eagles in the regular-season finale last Friday.

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The one-sided win couldn’t have come at a better time for Pomona, which had suffered its first--and only--conference loss to Northridge (67-61) earlier in the week. Pomona finished 11-1 in the CCAA.

"(That) game was a good springboard for us going into the playoffs,” Coach Darlene May said. “It’s always better going in with a win than a loss and if we continue to play like that, we have a good shot the rest of the way.”

Pomona has been led by its All-American tandem of junior center Niki Bracken (6-2), who averages a team-high 18.5 points and 8.8 rebounds, and senior guard Cathy Gooden (5-5), who is averaging 15.9 points and a team-high 5.4 assists.

Another standout in the game against Cal State L.A. was senior forward Susan Luckinbill (5-9), who grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds and is averaging 9.2 points and 5.5 rebounds for the season. The Broncos also start sophomores Stephanie Coons (5-10) at forward and Carrie Egan (5-8) at guard.

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In Cal State L.A., the Broncos will face a team that has an outstanding front line including center Lupe Quintana. The 6-0 senior, the leading rebounder in CCAA history, averaging 11.3 rebounds and 14.5 points.

The Golden Eagles, who finished at 7-5 in the CCAA, including two losses to Pomona, have other standouts in 6-0 junior forwards Tina Slatinsky and Trisha Maly. Slatinsky averages 12.8 points and 6.6 rebounds and Maly 10.4 points.

After playing impressively in non-conference games, the Cal Poly Pomona women’s softball team opens its Big West Conference season with doubleheaders against the University of Hawaii at 1:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Pomona.

The Broncos, who had a 57-16 record and finished third in the NCAA Division I World Series last year, lost many of their top players to graduation but have won 10 of 12 games.

Pomona returns outstanding pitchers Nicky Luce and Lori Thompson and All-Big West Conference catcher Denise Correa. Luce batted .304 with 4 home runs and 26 runs batted in last season, Luce was 25-8 with 13 shutouts and an 0.67 earned-run average, and Thompson was 9-3 with an 0.81 ERA.

The Broncos have also flourished behind the play of two freshman infielders, shortstop Shellie McCall and second baseman Kathy Twisselman. McCall, an All-CIF player at Corona High last season, is the team’s leading hitter at .333.

Pomona’s infield has also benefited from the addition of third baseman Heather DeLuca, who started in right field last year.

The Broncos are fresh from a 7-0 finish in round-robin play at the Arizona State Tournament last week. The unranked Broncos defeated four teams rated in the Division I top 20: No. 10 Iowa State, No. 11 Minnesota, No. 16 Arizona State and No. 17 Pacific.

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They will face a Hawaii team that was 30-29 last season but has struggled to a 2-7 record in nonconference play. The Rainbow Wahines are led by pitcher Cindy Schneller, who also is the team’s top hitter at .357.

Cal Poly Pomona and UC Riverside, baseball teams that were expected to be among the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. favorites this season but are having slow starts, will meet in conference games Friday and Saturday.

They will play at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Pomona and 1 p.m. Saturday at Riverside. Pomona also hosts Keio University of Japan in an game at 2:30 p.m. today.

Pomona entered the week at 1-2 in the CCAA and 2-11 overall while Riverside was 0-3 in the conference and 4-10 overall. But both are ranked in the NCAA Division II top 20 by Baseball America magazine, largely because the losses have come mostly against Division I opponents.

Riverside, which finished second in the CCAA last season, is ranked 18th and Pomona, which won the conference a year ago, is No. 19.


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