June 7, 2018
LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) -
Five former UNLV Lady Rebels are among a group of pioneering women's basketball players and coaches who are being honored Saturday, as they were all part of the Women's Professional Basketball League (WBL), which is being inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame. The ceremony will be streamed live on ESPN3 starting at 3 pm PST.
The Women's Basketball Hall of Fame is honoring the WBL with a display entitled "Trailblazers of the Game," joining eight other teams and organizations that have been recognized as such by the organization. The WBL was the first professional women's basketball league in the United States and played three total seasons from 1978-81.
The UNLV Lady Rebels made their impact right from the start on the new league, as all five played in the first season. In fact, four of them played in the very first women's professional game ever in the US, between the Milwaukee Does, which featured Janice Fuller, and the Chicago Hustle, which listed on its roster Janie Fincher, Liz Galloway and Debra Waddy-Rossow. The Hustle won that initial game 92-87 thanks to 30 points from Waddy-Rossow in front of 7,824 fans in the Milwaukee Arena on Dec. 9, 1978.
The fifth Lady Rebel in the league was Belinda Candler, who was a member of the 1978-79 Houston Angels championship squad. Four of the five players would play multiple seasons in the league, with Candler and Fincher both playing all three seasons of the WBL.
"The WBL is where professional women's basketball all started," said UNLV head coach Kathy Olivier. "All these talented Lady Rebels helped to make it happen. What a well-deserved honor for all of these women. They were the ones who taught all of us Lady Rebels how to “play like a Rebel.”
Also being honored this weekend will be the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2018: Ceal Barry (coach), Rose Marie Battaglia (veteran, contributor), Chris Dailey (contributor-assistant coach), Mickie DeMoss (contributor-assistant coach), Chamique Holdsclaw (player), Katie Smith (player) and Tina Thompson (player).
UNLV Lady Rebels In The WBL
Belinda Candler (1978-81)
Houston Angels, Chicago Hustle
Janie Fincher (1978-81)
Chicago Hustle, Washington Metros
Janice Fuller (1978-79)
Liz Galloway (1978-80)
Debra Waddy-Rossow (1978-80)