I MMA C U L ATA MA G A Z I N E * W I N T E R 2 0 1 5
L to R (front row): Gina Cocci, Sam Bonvetti, Adriana Sciascia, Jacquelyn McClellan, Meghan
Gallagher, Sara Smith, Mamako Johnson. L to R (back row): Head Coach Patty Canterino, Alison
Zimny, Lindsay Cras, Emily Bell, Elizabeth McBride, Reilly Larkin, Tess Kieffer, Theresa Walsh,
Assistant Coach Jayson Hyman, Brittany Merkle, Assistant Coach Chrissy Esbensen
L to R: Lucille Kyvallos, Gail Marquis, Donna Orender, Sharon Manning Beverly, Althea Gwyn,
Maryann Jecewicz, Elaine Felton, Dr. Maria Alonso ’78, Immaculata’s Vice President for Finance
and Administration Jenni Sauer, and Queens College’s President Dr. Felix V. Matos Rodriguez
Buses started rolling up to New York City early in the morning. The IHM
Sisters were ready—minus the buckets this time. Fans, including faculty, staff,
students and alumni, held signs reading “We Back the Macs.” The Immaculata
players had their game faces on and Mighty Macs Coach Patty Canterino was
prepared for the biggest game of the season: the rematch of the 40-year-old
Immaculata versus Queens College game at Madison Square Garden.
In tribute to the legendary game on February 22, 1975, when the first two
women’s college basketball teams played at Madison Square Garden to a crowd of
11,969, the current Mighty Macs team was invited to participate in the first game
of a doubleheader at the 2015 Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden
along with the Queens College Knights.
Although the final score of the 1975 game saw Immaculata prevailing 65-
61, the outcome of this game was a little different: Queens won 76 to 60. The
Division III Mighty Macs played hard against the Division II Knights and
entered half-time with only a one-point deficit. Senior Sara Smith led the Mighty
Macs with 15 points, followed by sophomore Reilly Larkin with 14, and 13
from senior Adriana Sciascia. Senior Brittany Merkle led the squad with nine
boards. Following the game and before the start of the St. John’s versus #2 seeded
University of Connecticut, all four teams lined up on the foul line to honor Coach
Maggie Dixon, the former Army coach who died in 2006 at age 28.
Much has changed over the past four decades. In 1975 women’s basketball
was under the umbrella of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for
Women (AIAW). Today, college basketball is governed by the NCAA (National
Collegiate Athletic Association), and Immaculata competes in a lower division
than Queens College.
Another notable change from that historic game was that both games of this
doubleheader were played by women’s teams. In 1975, the men’s basketball teams
from Fairfield University and University of Massachusetts matched up against
one another. And in case you were wondering…tickets for the 1975 game were $1;
tickets for the 2015 game were $30. One thing remained the same: Helen Reddy’s
I am Woman
could be heard blaring from arena speakers back in 1975 and again
“Playing at Madison Square Garden was an awesome experience for our team,”
commented Coach Canterino. “They take such pride in playing for Immaculata
University, and to be a part of celebrating and remembering a game that took
place 40 years ago was an honor for the present Mighty Macs. We appreciated the
opportunity to play at Madison Square Garden, and as we have always known,
Immaculata has the best fans. We appreciate everyone making the trip to NYC!”
During half-time, representatives from both Immaculata and Queens gathered
at center court for a tribute honoring the milestone game. After the conclusion
of the game, Dr. Maria Alonzo ’78, who was a freshman on that 1975 Mighty
Macs squad and is now a pediatric and transplant surgeon, participated in a panel
discussion with members of the 1975 Queens College team, hosted by former
New York Liberty star Sue Wicks. The discussion centered on memories from the
1975 game and the status of women’s basketball four decades later.
Officials at Madison Square Garden, the world’s most famous arena, tweeted
the following to Coach Canterino and the Mighty Macs:
It was an honor having you all here for a great game. Thank
you for giving the fans at the Garden some great memories today.
As of early February, the Mighty Macs are 9-1 in the CSAC Conference.