1986 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament

The 1986 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament began on March 12 and ended on March 30. The tournament expanded to 40 teams from 32. The Final Four consisted of Texas, Tennessee, Western Kentucky, and USC, with Texas defeating Southern California, 97-81 in the championship game.[1] Texas's Clarissa Davis was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.[2] With their championship win, Texas completed the first undefeated season (34-0) since the NCAA began sponsoring women's basketball in 1982.

1986 NCAA Division I
Women's Basketball Tournament
Finals siteRupp Arena
Lexington, Kentucky
ChampionsTexas (1st title)
Runner-upUSC (3rd title game)
MOPClarissa Davis (Texas)
NCAA Division I Women's Tournaments
«1985 1987»

ESPN expanded their coverage to show all four Regional Finals and the National Semifinals. CBS continued to broadcast the Championship game.[3]

Notable events

James Madison opened their regular season with a game against Virginia, which the Cavaliers won by 14 points, 71–57.[4] James Madison went on to a regular season record of 26–3, which earned them an 8 seed in the Tournament. As the higher seed, they were eligible to play their first-round game at home, but they were unable to host, so played their opponent, Providence at the home court of Providence. James Madison won the close game 55–53, to move on to the second round. Their opponent would be Virginia, who earned a number 1 seed in the tournament. The game started out with the Cavaliers taking five points with just over eleven minutes to go in the first half. The JMU Dukes then held Virginia to only a single field goal for the rest of the half and took an eleven-point lead at halftime. The two teams would play roughly evenly in the second half, with Virginia only managing to reduce the lead by two points. James Madison won the game 71–62, advancing to the regional semifinal, which was the first time in the five-year history of the NCAA Tournament that a team had defeated a number 1 seed prior to the Regional round.[5]

After earning a number one national ranking in 1984, but stumbling in the regional's finals to national power Louisiana Tech, Texas seemed poised for a better result in 1985. Not only did the team earn another top national ranking, but they entered the NCAA Tournament knowing that if they reached the Final Four, they would have the home court advantage with the final games scheduled for their own Frank Erwin Center. Home court would play a part, but not the part hoped for by the Longhorns. In the regional semi-finals, played at the home court of Western Kentucky University, the Hilltoppers stymied the Longhorn's hopes with a 92–90 victory. They would return to the 1986 tournament viewed as one of the top teams in the nation and were once again ranked the top team in the nation, but they still did not have a Final Four NCAA appearance on their resume.[6]

The Texas team won their first game easily, then continued to the regional, this time on their home court. They dispatched Oklahoma easily, then struggled against Mississippi, who were trying to prevent the team from a Final Four yet again. This time, Texas prevailed and beat Mississippi by three points to head to their first NCAA Final Four. Their opponent in the semifinal was none other than Western Kentucky, who had denied them the previous year. This time, the result would be very different, as the Longhorns beat Western Kentucky easily, 90–65.[7]

The other semifinal pitted Tennessee against Southern California. Cheryl Miller was the best player at USC, and had led the team to the national championship in 1984. Miller went on to play for the USA national team and helped the USA win the gold medal at the 1984 Olympics. 1986 was Miller's senior year at USC. The game between Tennessee and USC was a rematch of a physical game played in December, in which Miller was thrown out of the game for an elbow. The game was close, but USC ended up with an 85–77 win. In the rematch, Miller would again come out of the game, but under very different circumstances. She was worried about getting hurt, and with a 70–51 lead, didn't need to stay in. In that game, USC won by 24 points, 83–59.

That set up the championship game between USC and undefeated Texas. The Texas team was very deep but had suffered a number of injuries during the year. The game was close early with the Trojans leading at times in the first half, but Texas went on a 10–2 run to take a seven-point lead. Miller would have one of the worst games in her career. Although she scored 16 points, twelve of those were from the free throw line. She was only 2 for 11 from the field, without a single point in the second half. In contrast, Texas' Clarissa Davis came off the bench to score 25 and earn Most Outstanding Player honors. USC's Cynthia Cooper scored 27 points, and Texas won the national championship 97–81 to complete the first undefeated season in NCAA history.[8][9][10]


Cheryl Miller set the Final Four record of free throws in a single game with 12, in the championship game.

Clarissa Davis set the Final Four record for rebounds in a half, with 14 in the second half of the semifinal game.

The National Championship game between Texas and USC set several Final Four scoring marks:

  • Most points by one team—97
  • Most points combined by both teams—178
  • Most field goals in a game—40

Texas had 23 assists in the semi-final game, a record (since 1985, when the category was established), and followed that with 22 in the championship game.

Kamie Ethridge had 20 assists in the two Final Four games, a record for the combined Final Four games.[11]

Qualifying teams – automatic

Forty teams were selected to participate in the 1986 NCAA Tournament. Seventeen conferences were eligible for an automatic bid to the 1986 NCAA tournament.[3]

Automatic Bids
Qualifying School Conference Regular
Conference Seed
Pennsylvania State University Atlantic 10 23–7 12–4 3
University of Maryland, College Park ACC 17–12 6–8 6
Villanova University Big East 21–7 12–4 7
University of Missouri Big Eight 19–11 8–6 9
Ohio State University Big Ten 22–6 16–2 3
University of Utah High Country 21–7 11–1 9
University of South Carolina Metro 19–10 9–1 7
La Salle University MAAC 21–8 10–2 10
Ohio University MAC 26–2 16–2 9
University of Southern Illinois Missouri Valley Conference 25–3 18–0 6
University of Montana Mountain West Athletic 26–8 13–1 8
Middle Tennessee State University Ohio Valley Conference 19–9 13–1 10
University of Georgia SEC 29–1 9–0 1
University of North Texas Southland 20–9 7–3 10
University of Texas at Austin Southwest 29–0 16–0 1
Western Kentucky University Sun Belt Conference 29–3 6–0 4
University of Nevada, Las Vegas WAC 22–8 11–3 5

Qualifying teams – at-large

Twenty-three additional teams were selected to complete the forty invitations.[3]

At-large Bids
Qualifying School Conference Regular
Conference Seed
Rutgers University Atlantic 10 27–3 16–0 2
Saint Joseph's University Atlantic 10 22–6 12–4 5
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Atlantic Coast 22–8 10–4 4
North Carolina State University Atlantic Coast 18–10 9–5 6
University of Virginia Atlantic Coast 26–2 13–1 1
Providence College Big East 24–5 14–2 9
University of Oklahoma Big Eight 23–6 10–4 4
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign Big Ten 19–9 12–6 8
University of Iowa Big Ten 22–6 15–3 5
James Madison University Colonial 26–3 11–1 8
Louisiana Tech University Independent 25–4 -–- 2
Drake University Missouri Valley 21–7 16–2 10
University of Washington Northern Pacific 23–5 10–2 7
California State University, Long Beach Pacific Coast 28–4 14–0 3
University of Southern California Pacific West 27–4 8–0 1
Auburn University Southeastern 23–5 6–3 3
University of Kentucky Southeastern 18–10 4–5 7
Louisiana State University Southeastern 25–5 6–3 2
University of Mississippi Southeastern 22–7 6–3 2
University of Tennessee Southeastern 21–9 5–4 4
Vanderbilt University Southeastern 22–8 4–5 5
University of Arkansas Southwest 22–7 13–3 8
Texas Tech University Southwest 21–8 13–3 6

Bids by conference

Twenty-one conferences earned an automatic bid. In thirteen cases, the automatic bid was the only representative from the conference. Eighteen additional at-large teams were selected from seven of the conferences, plus one independent (not associated with an athletic conference) team earned at-large bids.[3]

Bids Conference Teams
7 Southeastern Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
4 Atlantic Coast Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina St., Virginia
3 Southwest Arkansas, Texas Tech, Texas
3 Big Ten Illinois, Iowa, Ohio St.
3 Atlantic 10 Penn St., Rutgers, St. Joseph's
2 Missouri Valley Drake, Southern Ill.
2 Big Eight Missouri, Oklahoma
2 Big East Providence, Villanova
1 Pacific West Southern California
1 Pacific Coast Long Beach St.
1 Ohio Valley Middle Tenn.
1 Northern Pacific Washington
1 Mountain West Athletic Montana
1 Mid-American Ohio
1 Metro South Carolina
1 Metro Atlantic La Salle
1 Independent Louisiana Tech
1 High Country Utah
1 Colonial James Madison

First and second rounds

In 1986, the field expanded to 40 teams. The teams were seeded, and assigned to four geographic regions, with seeds 1-10 in each region. In Round 1, seeds 8 and 9 faced each other for the opportunity to face the 1 seed in the second round, while seeds 7 and 10 faced each other for the opportunity to face the 2 seed. In the first two rounds, the higher seed was given the opportunity to host the first-round game. In most cases, the higher seed accepted the opportunity. The exceptions:[11]

  • Illinois was an eight seed, but chose not to host, so the game was played at nine seed Ohio
  • James Madison, the eight seed, played ninth seeded Providence at Providence
  • Arkansas, the eight seed, played ninth seeded Missouri at Missouri
  • Kentucky, the seven seed, played the tenth seeded Drake at Drake

The following table lists the region, host school, venue and the twenty-four first round locations:

Des Moines
1986 NCAA first round
University Park
Bowling Green
Baton Rouge
Chapel Hill
Long Beach
Los Angeles
1986 NCAA second round
Region Rnd Host Venue City State
East 1 Providence College Alumni Hall (Providence) Providence Rhode Island
East 1 Villanova University Palestra Philadelphia Pennsylvania
East 2 Pennsylvania State University Recreation Building (Rec Hall) University Park Pennsylvania
East 2 University of Virginia University Hall (University of Virginia) Charlottesville Virginia
East 2 Western Kentucky University E.A. Diddle Arena Bowling Green Kentucky
East 2 Rutgers University Louis Brown Athletic Center Piscataway New Jersey
Mideast 1 University of South Carolina Carolina Coliseum Columbia South Carolina
Mideast 1 University of Ohio Convocation Center Athens Ohio
Mideast 2 University of Georgia Georgia Coliseum (Stegeman Coliseum) Athens Georgia
Mideast 2 Louisiana State University LSU Assembly Center (Pete Maravich Assembly Center) Baton Rouge Louisiana
Mideast 2 Ohio State University St. John Arena Columbus Ohio
Mideast 2 University of Tennessee Stokely Athletic Center Knoxville Tennessee
Midwest 1 Drake University Drake Fieldhouse Des Moines Iowa
Midwest 1 University of Missouri Hearnes Center Columbia Missouri
Midwest 2 Auburn University Memorial Coliseum (Beard–Eaves–Memorial Coliseum) Auburn Alabama
Midwest 2 University of Oklahoma Lloyd Noble Center Norman Oklahoma
Midwest 2 University of Texas Frank Erwin Center Austin Texas
Midwest 2 University of Mississippi Tad Smith Coliseum University Mississippi
West 1 University of Montana Dahlberg Arena Missoula Montana
West 1 University of Washington Hec Edmundson Pavilion Seattle Washington
West 2 University of North Carolina Carmichael Auditorium Chapel Hill North Carolina
West 2 Long Beach State University Gym (Gold Mine) Long Beach California
West 2 University of Southern California Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena Los Angeles California
West 2 Louisiana Tech University Thomas Assembly Center Ruston Louisiana

Regionals and Final Four

Iowa City
Long Beach
1986 NCAA Regionals and Final Four

The Regionals, named for the general location, were held from March 20 to March 23 at these sites:

Each regional winner advanced to the Final Four, held March 28 and March 30 in Lexington, Kentucky at Rupp Arena

Bids by state

The forty teams came from twenty-five states. Pennsylvania had the most teams with four. Twenty-five states did not have any teams receiving bids.[3]

Bids State Teams
4 Pennsylvania Penn St, Villanova, La Salle, St Joseph's
3 California Southern Ill, Long Beach St, Southern California
3 Tennessee Middle Tenn, Tennessee, Vanderbilt
3 Texas North Texas, Texas, Texas Tech
2 Iowa Iowa, Drake
2 Kentucky Western Kentucky, Kentucky
2 Louisiana Louisiana Tech, LSU
2 North Carolina North Carolina, North Carolina St
2 Ohio Ohio St, Ohio
2 Virginia Virginia, James Madison
1 Alabama Auburn
1 Arkansas Arkansas
1 Georgia Georgia
1 Illinois Illinois
1 Maryland Maryland
1 Mississippi Mississippi
1 Missouri Missouri
1 Montana Montana
1 Nevada UNLV
1 New Jersey Rutgers
1 Oklahoma Oklahoma
1 Rhode Island Providence
1 South Carolina South Carolina
1 Utah Utah
1 Washington Washington


Games played at better seed except where noted.

East Regional – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Palestra)

  First round
March 12
Second round
March 14–16
Regional semifinals
March 20–21
Regional finals
March 22
8 James Madison 55  
9 at Providence 53  
  8 James Madison 71  
    1 Virginia 62  
  8 James Madison 51  
  4 Western Kentucky 72  
  5 St. Joseph's 65
    4 Western Kentucky 74  
  4 Western Kentucky 89
  2 Rutgers 74
7 Villanova 60  
10 La Salle 55  
  7 Villanova 58
    2 Rutgers 85  
  2 Rutgers 85
  3 Penn State 72  
  3 Penn State 63
    6 North Carolina State 59  

Midwest Regional – University of Texas – Austin, Texas (Frank Erwin Center)

  First round
March 12
Second round
March 14–16
Regional semifinals
March 20–21
Regional finals
March 23
8 Arkansas 65  
9 at Missouri 66  
  9 Missouri 67  
    1 Texas 106  
  1 Texas 85  
  4 Oklahoma 59  
  5 Vanderbilt 67
    4 Oklahoma 86  
  1 Texas 66
  2 Mississippi 63
7 Kentucky 70  
10 at Drake 73  
  10 Drake 71
    2 Mississippi 84  
  2 Mississippi 56
  3 Auburn 55  
  3 Auburn 61
    6 Southern Illinois 39  

Mideast Regional – University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa (Carver–Hawkeye Arena)

  First round
March 12
Second round
March 14–16
Regional semifinals
March 20–21
Regional finals
March 23
8 Illinois 69  
9 at Ohio 68  
  8 Illinois 64  
    1 Georgia 103  
  1 Georgia 82  
  4 Tennessee 85  
  5 Iowa 68
    4 Tennessee 73  
  4 Tennessee 67
  2 LSU 65
7 South Carolina 76  
10 Middle Tennessee State 77  
  10 Middle Tennessee State 65
    2 LSU 78  
  2 LSU 81
  3 Ohio State 80  
  3 Ohio State 87
    6 Maryland 71  

West Regional – Long Beach State University – Long Beach, California (Long Beach Arena)

  First round
March 12
Second round
March 14–16
Regional semifinals
March 20–21
Regional finals
March 23
8 Montana 58  
9 Utah 46  
  8 Montana 50  
    1 USC 81  
  1 USC 84  
  4 North Carolina 70  
  5 UNLV 76
    4 North Carolina 82  
  1 USC 80
  2 Louisiana Tech 64
7 Washington 69  
10 North Texas State 54  
  7 Washington 54
    2 Louisiana Tech 79  
  2 Louisiana Tech 71
  3 Long Beach State 69  
  3 Long Beach State 78
    6 Texas Tech 73 (OT)  

Final Four – Lexington, Kentucky (Rupp Arena)

National Semifinals
March 28
National Championship
March 30
4E Western Kentucky 65
1MW Texas 90
1MW Texas 97
1W USC 81
4ME Tennessee 59
1W USC 83

Record by conference

Sixteen conferences had more than one bid, or at least one win in NCAA Tournament play:[3]

Conference # of Bids Record Win % Round
of 32
Southeastern 7 9–7 .563 6 5 3 1
Atlantic Coast 4 1–4 .200 4 1
Southwest 3 5–2 .714 2 1 1 1 1
Atlantic 10 3 3–3 .500 3 2 1
Big Ten 3 2–3 .400 3 1
Big Eight 2 2–2 .500 2 1
Big East 2 1–2 .333 1
Pacific West 1 4–1 .800 1 1 1 1 1
Sun Belt 1 3–1 .750 1 1 1 1
Colonial 1 2–1 .667 1 1
Independent 1 2–1 .667 1 1 1
Missouri Valley 1 1–1 .500 1
Mountain West Athletic 1 1–1 .500 1
Northern Pacific 1 1–1 .500 1
Ohio Valley 1 1–1 .500 1
Pacific Coast 1 1–1 .500 1 1

Seven conferences went 0-1: Gateway, High Country, Metro, MAAC, MAC, Southland, and WAC [3]

All-Tournament Team

  • Clarissa Davis, University of Texas at Austin
  • Fran Harris, University of Texas at Austin
  • Cheryl Miller, University of Southern California
  • Cynthia Cooper, University of Southern California
  • Clemette Haskins, Western Kentucky University[11]

Game Officials

  • Kit Robinson (Semi-Final)
  • June Courteau (Semi-Final)
  • Bob Olsen (Semi-Final)
  • Bill Stokes (Semi-Final)[11]

See also


  1. Gregory Cooper. "1986 NCAA National Championship Tournament". Archived from the original on 2009-10-21. Retrieved 2007-03-30.
  2. "CHN Basketball History: Most Outstanding Player". Archived from the original on 2008-01-25. Retrieved 2007-03-30.
  3. Nixon, Rick. "Official 2102 NCAA Women's Final Four Records Book" (PDF). NCAA. Retrieved 22 April 2012.
  4. "2012-13 JMU Women's Basketball Guide". James Madison University. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  5. "2009-10 JMU Women's Basketball Guide". James Madison University. p. 110. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  6. "Celebrating perfection: 1986 Texas Women's Basketball". Texas Longhorns Women's Basketball. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  7. CART, JULIE (March 29, 1986). "USC Women Win, and It's Without a Fight". LA Times. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  8. CART, JULIE (March 31, 1986). "Texas Longhorns Women's Basketball". LA Times. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  9. Jackson, Melanie (March 31, 2006). "With a freshman leading the way, Texas runs the table". ESPN.
  10. "National Championship moments: 1986 Women's Basketball". Texas Longhorns Women's Basketball. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  11. "Attendance and Sites" (PDF). NCAA. Retrieved 19 March 2012.
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