QUEENS COLLEGE WOMEN MAKE HISTORY; FIRST WOMEN’S TEAM
INDUCTED INTO NYC BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME
--Press Conference for Media-Only on Sept. 21 at 5 PM, NY Athletic Club--
NEW YORK, September 10, 2004 -- The accomplishments and impact of the 1972-73 Queens College women’s basketball team will be recognized when its members become the first women’s team inducted into the New York City Basketball Hall of Fame. The ceremony takes place during an awards dinner on Tuesday evening, September 21, at the New York Athletic Club, 180 Central Park South between 7th Avenue and Avenue of the Americas. The ceremony is open only to paying guests. The only opportunity for media to photograph and interview team members is at the 5 pm press conference. Media contact for news conference: Howie Evans, 954-501-4001.
Queens College joins just a handful of teams in the City’s Basketball Hall of Fame, including the 1969-70 NBA champion Knicks, the 1949-50 City College team that won both the NCAA and NIT crowns, and the 1963-64 undefeated Power Memorial H.S. team that featured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The Queens College women hosted a standing-room-only national championship tournament in 1972-73, finished second, and attracted a previously unprecedented level of media and public attention that became a benchmark for other colleges. The team had a 22-5 overall record; a 19-point average margin of victory; and an undefeated streak against New York State colleges that would last nearly a decade. This was the first women’s team from New York City to play for a national championship.
The Queens College team proved that women could play a fast-paced, aggressive, highly skilled game that crowds would enjoy. Its success started the process of opening the door for the team to play at Madison Square Garden two years later, before a crowd of almost
12,000--the first women’s collegiate basketball game ever played in that storied arena.
Debbie “the Pearl” Mason, perhaps the nation’s most creative player at the time, led the team with 15 points per game and regularly brought crowds to their feet with fast, flashy drives for baskets.
The other team members were: Cathy Andruzzi; Maggie Hilgenberg; Maryann Jecewiz; co-captain Shirley Johnson; Gail Marquis, a member of the silver medal 1976 U.S. Olympic and 1977 World University teams; Judy Milewski, a 1,000 point career scorer; Yvette Pierre; Barbara Riccardi, co-captain and rebounds co-leader; Nancy Rullo; Judy Spina; Maureen Steuerer; Rachel Wells, who averaged 10 points and 10 rebounds per game; Lucille Kyvallos, the renowned, retired head coach; and Connie VanHousen, assistant coach.
None of the players was taller than 5’11”, several had little or no pre-college playing experience, and there were no scholarships, dorms or other athletic-recruiting incentives available.
Donna Lopiano, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Sports Foundation, is scheduled to introduce the Queens team at the induction dinner.
The other inductees for the 15th annual ceremony are: the late Malik Sealy, St. John’s University’s second all-time scorer; Leroy Ellis, an All-American at St. John’s; George Kaftan, of Xavier H.S., Holy Cross College and the Knicks; Johnny Lee, an Erasmus Hall H.S. and Yale star; Zeke Sinicola, of Ben Franklin H.S. and Niagara University; Buck Freeman, who coached St. John’s, Scranton, North and South Carolina; and Herb Turetzky, N.J. Nets statistician.