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Bonita Spence, 51, longtime women’s basketball referee

FILE - In this Feb. 24 2008 file phoDePaul coach Doug Bruno right questions call with official BonitSpence during second

FILE - In this Feb. 24, 2008, file photo, DePaul coach Doug Bruno, right, questions a call with official Bonita Spence during the second half of an NCAA women's college basketball game against Notre Dame in Chicago. Spence, worked every NCAA women's tournament since 2000, including the Final Four in 2001 and 2005, died Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, the NCAA said on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013. She was 51. (AP Photo/Joseph Oliver, File

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Updated: October 19, 2013 7:25PM

Bonita Spence, a longtime women’s basketball official who worked two Finals Fours and refereed for 10 years in the WNBA, has died. She was 51.

She died Sunday, the NCAA said. The governing body on Tuesday did not immediately release further details.

Ms. Spence worked every NCAA women’s tournament since 2000, including the Final Four in 2001 and 2005. She officiated for 27 years, handling games in the Big East, Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten and Southeastern Conference. Ms. Spence also refereed in the WNBA from 1999-2009.

“I had personally known Bonita since high school and had always admired her integrity and spirit,” Anucha Browne, the NCAA’s vice president for women’s basketball, said in a statement. “Her longtime officiating career, numerous NCAA championships and her mentoring of many young officials will help carry her legacy forward in the game.”

Ms. Spence played at Monmouth and was the point guard on the school’s first Division I team in 1982. She set the school’s assist record that season, a mark that was matched a year later and still stands. Ms. Spence was a graduate assistant for the school a year later.

“Lost a good official today,” Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma tweeted Monday night. “Lost an even better person.”

Ms. Spence also worked as a principal investigator in the New Jersey office of the public defender in Newark for more than 20 years.


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