MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - After losing to Maryland in its first NCAA postseason appearance the Central Michigan women’s basketball team rebounded in 1984 with one of the best seasons in the history of the program.
The Chippewas entered the 1983 postseason with 21-8 record and went on to beat Toledo and Miami in the Mid-American Conference Tournament to earn a bid to their first-ever NCAA Tournament, but it was a short run as a loss to Maryland, the Atlantic Coast Conference Champions, in the first round ended the Chippewas' season.
Six months later head coach Laura Golden entered the 1984 season with eight returning players. This depth of experience was bound to help the Chippewas, and it did. After starting the season 1-2, the Chippewas went on to win 24-straight before entering the MAC Tournament. From there they went on to win MAC Tournament, defeating Northern Illinois 106-72 in the semifinals, and going on to defeat Toledo, 71-55, in the championship game for their second-straight NCAA bid.
The Chippewas entered the NCAA Tournament holding the nation's longest winning streak at 26 games, which may have been the reason that the NCAA granted them home court advantage.
“I don’t see how the NCAA could refuse to give a home game to the team with the longest winning streak in the NCAA,” said Golden on getting to play in Mount Pleasant.
In front of a home crowd of 3,250, the Chippewas battled the No. 12 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide, who were 23-8 on the season.
The Crimson Tide held a 12-point lead in the first half, 32-20, but the Chippewas rallied, closing out the half on a 12-5 run to head into the locker room down 37-32.
The Chippewas continued their rally into the second half, starting off with a 12-2 run which gave them a 44-39 lead. However, Alabama was able to regain control, getting ahead by as many as 13 late in the game.
Though the Chippewas fought hard, a 78-70 loss to the Crimson Tide ended the Chippewas' shining season.
“I now think the rest of the nation knows about CMU and the MAC,” said Golden, “I think we’ve gained tremendous respect from basketball people around the country.”
Fast forward 29 years and the Chippewas are once again gaining respect on a national stage, defeating top-25 teams, hosting top-10 programs, and placing a sophomore on the All-America ballot.
Saturday they will try to take the next step with the program's first NCAA postseason victory. But they hope to not stop there.
"We don't want to do the two-step," said head coach Sue Guevara. "One step in, one step out. We're hoping we can stay here a while and cha-cha."