FRANKFORT, Ky. - 3/20/2012 - Oklahoma City captured the program’s sixth national championship tonight with a 69-48 win over Union (Tenn.) in the championship game of the 2012 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship presented by Kentuckytourism.com at the Frankfort Convention Center.
Oklahoma City finishes the season 35-1. The national title is the first for the Stars since they won four straight from 1999-2002.
Union head coach Mark Campbell said, "Oklahoma City was the best team in this year’s tournament. It would have take a great game from our team and I felt we continued to fight as we did all season. Circumstances never dictated our effort last night. OCU was the better team and Coach Edmisson’s team played at a very high level the entire 40 minutes. I am thankful because I got to spend every possible day with my team this year.”
Oklahoma City’s Taylor Booze set the tone early in the game as she nailed a pair of 3-pointers to help the Stars jump out to a 9-0 lead. In fact, the Stars held Union scoreless for nearly the first five minutes of the game.
Union -- playing in its fourth-straight title game -- managed to cut the OCU lead to four points on three different occasions in the first half, including 28-24 following Lavanda Ross’ driving basket with 4:16 left in the half. Ross finished with a team-high 15 points.
The four-point deficit was the closest the Bulldogs would get.
Oklahoma City scored the next 11 points over the waning minutes of the first half and the start of the second half to take a 39-24 lead with 17:15 left in the game.
Dietra Caldwell opened the decisive run and Lauren Gober closed it with one of her game-high four threes. Caldwell narrowly missed a double-double ending the game with nine points and 10 rebounds, while Gober chipped in 17 points.
Following a Union timeout, the Bulldogs (35-3) scored the next six points to climb within single digits (39-30) with 15:04 remaining. Oklahoma City answered the Union run with a 10-2 spurt of its own and all but ended the Bulldogs’ hopes for their third title in four years.
Union managed to cut the lead to 14 (51-37) midway through the half only to have the Stars once again respond and extend their lead to as many 21 points late in half.
Union -- who entered the game allowing just 51.3 points per game this season and just 48.8 during its tournament run -- gave up a season-high 69 points for the second time this season to Oklahoma City. The Stars beat Union 69-57 on Nov. 26.
Oklahoma City shot 53.8 percent (28-of-52) from the field, including making 8-of-14 threes.
Booze -- who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player -- was one of the reasons the Stars were so efficient from the field. She connected on 8-of-13 shots during the game, including 2-for-3 from deep.
Union shot just 33.9 percent (20-of-59) from the field and 4-for-19 from beyond the three-point arc.
Oklahoma City’s Desiree Jeffries finished with eight points and 10 rebounds, while Nicollette Smith added nine points off the bench.
Union’s LaTesa McLaughlin joined Ross in double figures with 10 points. Shelby Ashcraft added nine points and 11 rebounds.
When asked about the success of his team this season, Campbell said, “This year’s theme was ‘a will that separates us’. In the past I believed that we had the most talented team, this year that has not been the case. Our strength all year has been our heart, our character, our will and the fact we were a team. We define success here as being humble, caring about one another, being unified, serving each other, being thankful and the desire to glorify God through this game. This has been a very successful year because hearts have been changed. God has pursued our players and many of them have grown in ways that really matter. I am thankful to the Lord to be in this position. Thankful to watch a player like Lavanda Ross! Mostly thankful to work in a place where I can be on mission with the university through athletics.”
2012 NAIA All-Tournament Team
Lavanda Ross, Union (Tenn.)
Angie Lawrence, Georgetown (Ky.)
Taylor Booze, Oklahoma City
Lauren Gober, Oklahoma City
Brittany Roberts, Lubbock Christian (Texas)
Logan Froese, Rigers State (Okla.)
Briana Hall, Azusa Pacific (Calif.)
Charisse Reece, Biola (Calif.)
Tugce Canitez, Westmont (Calif.)
Kelsey Canavan, Lubbock Christian (Texas)
Most Valuable Player: Taylor Booze, Oklahoma City
Hustle Award: Abby Ballman, Shawnee State (Ohio)
Phyllis Holmes Coach of the Year Award: Rob Edmisson, Oklahoma City
Buffalo Funds Five Star Team Champions of Character Award: Lee (Tenn.)
Phone: (731) 661-5027
Fax: (731) 661-5182