JACKSON, Tenn. - 11/19/2010 - The No. 1 Union (Tenn.) University women’s basketball team posted a 61-50 win over No. 2 Azusa Pacific (Calif.) University in the second night of play in the 2010 Jackson Rotary Classic. Union stayed perfect with their fifth straight win to open the season. Azusa Pacific dropped to 3-1 on the year.
Not only was this a match-up of the NAIA’s top two teams in the preseason poll, but it was a re-match of last season’s NAIA National Title game. Union won that game 73-65 for their second straight national title.
Union and Azusa Pacific posted their season-low in points in a game with the 61-50 final. Both teams posted field goal percentages in the low 30’s, while the three-point shooting percentages were below 20 percent for both teams.
Union’s Lavanda Ross and Azusa’s Kristie Hala’ufia opened play with back-to-back baskets to set the score at 2-2 just over a minute into play. Over the next five minutes, Union rolled off a 10-0 run to lead 12-2. The Cougars cut the deficit down to seven points several times in the first half, but Union managed to keep the lead of at least seven points. However, with 2:16 left in the half, a second straight basket from last year’s national tournament MVP Zeinab Chan to put the Union up by 12 points, 29-17. This was Union’s largest lead of the half, before settling for the 31-20 halftime lead.
Union manage just 35 percent shooting from the field in the first half, including 1-of-12 (8%) from three-point range. Azusa was held to just 25 percent from the field and 14 percent (1-7) from behind the arc.
In the second half, Union got two free throws from Chan to go up 33-20 in the first minute. However, neither team scored again until a basket from Union’s Ross put Union up 35-20 at the 16:34 mark. Azusa Pacific first points of the second half came on a basket from Eboni Sadler at the 15:24 mark. Union maintained a double-digit lead until a three pointer from Sadler cut the deficit to nine points, 41-32, with 11:42 left to play.
Union again pushed the lead out to 13 points, 51-38 with 4:58 to play. However, Azusa posted a 9-0 run over the next two-plus minutes to pull to within four points, 51-47, with 2:21 left. The 9-0 run was capped off with a three-point play from Sadler who finished with nine points.
On a night that Union was just 4-of-23 (17%) from long range, Hope Adams sank the biggest shot of the game for her team to stop the Azusa rally. Her three pointer sparked a 7-0 run for Union that sealed the game. Union made five of eight free throws in the last 90 seconds to secure the 61-50 final.
Union was led by Chan with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Adams also recorded a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Ross added 10 points in the game. Adams made two of Union’s four three pointers, while Kayla Bryant sank the other two for her six points. All-American Kayla Hudson was held to just one point on a free throw in the final seconds. The Lady Bulldogs shot 34 percent from the field and 71 percent (17-24) from the free throw line.
Azusa Pacific was led by Hala’ufia with a game-high 21 points to go with her 11 rebounds. Sadler’s nine points was the next highest for Azusa. The Cougars shot 32 percent from the field, 15 percent (2-13) from behind the arc and 75 percent 12-16) from the free throw line.
Up next for Union will be a second straight top-5 match-up with a second straight Golden State Athletic Conference team. Union will close out the Rotary Classic at 9:00 p.m. against No. 5 Vanguard (Calif.) on Saturday, Nov. 20. Azusa Pacific will play No. 19 Bethel in their final Rotary Classic game at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday.
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