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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Production Helps Guard Gain Stature

Associated Press

Heather Fiore heard all the whispers, all the disparaging remarks. Sure she was a good basketball player, but at 5-feet-4, she’d never make it at the Division I level.

So she set out to prove them wrong. And succeeded.

Now in her senior year at Canisius, Fiore is the school’s career scoring leader and shares the single-game scoring record with a slew of others.

“My dream was always to play Division I basketball,” said Fiore, who’s averaging 20.3 points, seven assists and 3.2 steals this season. “People telling me I couldn’t do it just made me want it so much more and made we work that much harder to make it happen.

“All I needed was the chance to prove myself.”

She certainly has done that. After scoring 22 points in a 104-84 victory over Niagara on Wednesday night, Fiore had 1,852 career points. She collected 88 of them in spectacular back-to-back performances against St. Peter’s and Colgate in mid-January.

In a 109-104 overtime loss to St. Peter’s, Fiore scored a school-record 46 points, including 37 over the final 18 minutes. That also was a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference record and is the second-best effort in Division I this season.

Fiore followed that performance with 42 points, 12 assists and seven steals in a 114-106 overtime victory over Colgate.

The 46 points against St. Peter’s made Fiore her school’s career leader. Her coach, Kara Rehbaum, held the old mark of 1,661 points. Rehbaum ended her playing career in 1984.

“Heather’s a little player with a big heart,” said Rehbaum, who’s a head taller than her star guard. “Our scoring styles were different. She’s the type of player that makes things happen, hitting the threes and driving for layups. I collected most of my points inside, off second-chance points.”

However Fiore gets her points, she gets them in bunches.

Runner-up race

While No. 3 Stanford closes in on its eighth Pacific-10 Conference championship in the last nine years, Southern Cal, Arizona and Oregon are waging a spirited battle for second place.

After Thursday night’s games, Stanford was 12-0 in the league, while USC was 9-2, Oregon 9-3 and Arizona 7-3.

Defense has been critical for all three second-place contenders, who hold the league’s top three spots in field-goal percentage defense.

Arizona is off to its best start in Pac-10 play. The Wildcats held Arizona State to 22.2 percent shooting last weekend and have kept four other opponents under 30 percent. They’re 11-0 when holding opponents to less than 35 percent.

Oregon (16-5 overall), off to its best start since 1986-87, is allowing only 57.8 points while holding opponents to 37 percent shooting. Opponents are shooting just 38 percent against USC, which has a big-time scorer in senior Tina Thompson.

Thompson is one of just five Pac-10 players who have scored more than 2,000 points in her career. Her 22.4 scoring average this season is more than two points a game better than Stanford’s preseason All-American, Kate Starbird.

Big winner

Barbara Stevens just keeps racking up the victories at Bentley College in Waltham, Mass.

Already the winningest active coach in NCAA Division II, Stevens earned her 300th victory at the school when Bentley beat St. Michael’s 82-57 last weekend. And it took her less than 11 full seasons to reach that milestone.

Stevens averaged 28 victories through her first 10 years while playing a 26-game regular-season schedule. Bentley has made the NCAA Tournament each of those years, reached the national quarterfinals six times and set a Division II record with five straight 30-victory seasons.

After a 73-36 rout of Quinnipiac on Thursday night, Stevens was 302-46 at Bentley and 459-137 overall. She coached three years at Division III Clark and three seasons at Division I Massachusetts before moving to Bentley.

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