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History of Women in Basketball

Sheryl Swoopes, Lauren Jackson, Tammy Sutton-Brown, Ticha Penicheiro and Theresa Weatherspoon ... are all talented lady athletes helping to make women´s basketball a top sport. But what about the women who came before them, who were the driving forces in the early days and carried the sport during the years when it was a male-dominated sport? Below are a few of the many women who made a name for themselves in the game of basketball, past and present.

Senda Berenson Abbott introduced modified basketball to her female students in 1893 as head of the Smith College´s P.E. department. Berenson worried that women might suffer from "nervous fatigue" if games were too strenuous, so she adapted rules to make it easier and more aceptable for women to play which include not snatching the ball, not holding it for more than three seconds, or dribbling it more than three times. The rules she employed were adopted and published by Spalding´s sporting goods in 1899. Senda Berenson was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1985.

Lorene "Butch" Moore , wife of Orwell Moore, owner of the famous All-American Redheads, was the most successful scorer in the history of the Red Heads, scoring 35,426 points in 11 seasons. To my knowledge, this is a still a scoring record. She could sink 25 free throws in a row from a kneeling poisition at the free throw line.

Missouri Arledge was the first black woman to play in a national Amateur Athletic Union tournament. As a member of the 1952-53 Philander-Smith College of Arkansas squad, "Big Mo", as she was affectionately known, averaged 21 points per game.

Clara Gregory Baer , a physical educator, introduced the game of basketball at H. Sophie Newcomb College for Women in New Orleans in the early 1890s. In 1895, she published "Basketball Rules for Women and Girls," in which she described two shots, the one-handed and the jump shot, that were not adopted in men´s basketball until 1936.

Carol Blazejowski is the game´s most notable name of the last 20 years. She scored 33.5 points per game for Montclair State in 1976-77. She scored 3,199 points total, second only to Pete Maravich in all-time scoring among male or female college players. Her 52 points in a 1978 game against Queens College set a Madison Square Garden scoring record for either sex. She was awarded the first Wade Trophy in 1978 as the country´s top women´s college basketball player. Blazejowski was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1993.

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