Sandra Hodge – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
University of New Orleans/Harlem Globetrotters
Sandra Hodge, a native of Clinton, Miss., is one of the greatest basketball players in UNO history as well as one of top scorers in NCAA basketball history. Playing for the UNO Buckettes as they were known at the time, Hodge averaged 26.72 points per game for her career (1980-84) while leading UNO to four straight 20-win seasons. Her career scoring average is the second-best in NCAA Division I history behind only Patricia Hoskins of Mississippi State (28.4 ppg from 1985-89) and just ahead of Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne (26.66 ppg from 2009-13).
Hodge remains atop the UNO charts (as of 2020) for career points (2,824), career scoring average, field goals made (1,179) field goal attempts (1,179) and free throws made (466), while ranking second all-time at the school in free throw percentage (.808), rebounds (948) and steals (239).
Hodge recorded three of the five and four of the top seven single-season point totals, including the UNO record of 820 points in 1982-83. She also tallied three of the seven 40-point games in UNO history, including a 44-point effort in a win over Spring Hill in February of 1981.
She was also the Sugar Bowl’s Greater New Orleans Female Amateur Athlete of the Year an unmatched three straight years (1982, 1983 and 1984).
The Buckettes had won a total of 20 games in the first five years of the program (1975-80). However, when Hodge exploded onto the collegiate scene as a freshman in the 1980-81 season, she scored 816 points for an average of 29.1 points per game – and UNO posted a 20-8 record. As a sophomore, Hodge led her team to a 21-7 record as Hodge averaged 22.4 points per game.
For her first two season, Hodge and the Buckettes played in the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW). However, prior to her junior season, the NCAA officially began sponsoring women’s basketball and UNO began competing as a Division I Independent.
The name of the governing body had little effect on Hodge – she averaged 27.3 points per game in 1982-83. The team posted a 20-8 regular season record and was selected to play in the National Women’s Invitational Tournament (for the top eight teams that didn’t make the 32-team NCAA Tournament) in Amarillo, Texas. After edging Texas Tech, 66-65, in the opening round, the Buckettes cruised to a 100-70 win over Weber State in the semifinals and then defeated Memphis, 68-58, in the championship. Hodge, unsurprisingly, was the tournament MVP.
The 5-9 guard-forward set the school’s still-standing record for scoring average with 29.5 points per game as a senior in 1983-84 as UNO went 22-6. The teams only losses came to LSU (twice), Utah, Louisville, Kentucky and UL Lafayette (then Southwestern Louisiana) while it beat Tulane and won the Miami Masonic Classic with victories over Cal State Fullerton, St. Joseph’s (Pa.) and Wake Forest.
After graduation, she played professionally in Sweden and Spain, and in 1987, she became just the third woman to play with the Harlem Globetrotters when she joined the team on a South American tour. Over the next six years, Hodge would play over 200 games a year around the world (she visited six continents) with the Globetrotters.
“Seeing those happy faces in the places we play in is an extremely satisfying feeling for me, and the rest of the team,” Hodge told the Newport News (Va.) Daily Press in 1992. “At least for two hours or so, people can forget their problems and have some fun with us.”
Hodge, whose UNO jersey (#44) was retired on February 23, 1989, was inducted into the Privateer Hall of Fame that same year. She was also selected to the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s LSWA All-Time Collegiate Team.