JACKSON, Tenn. - 2/21/2008 - The Union University Lady Bulldogs, ranked No. 1 in the NAIA, kept their perfect season alive with a 72-68 win over No. 7 Freed-Hardeman University (Tenn.) on Thursday night. Union improved to 26-0 on the season and 15-0 in the TranSouth. Freed-Hardeman dropped to 22-6 overall and 12-4 in the TranSouth.
The win also clinched Union’s second straight TranSouth Conference regular season title. Union now has a four game lead with just three games left to play. This marks the tenth regular season conference title in the 12-year history of the league, including a co-championship with Freed-Hardeman in 2004.
Union has now won 47 of their past 49 games, dating back to January 11, 2007. This night also marked the first game on Union’s campus since a tornado did major damage to the student housing and other buildings on the night of February 5. Union students are in their second day of classes, after starting back on Wednesday, February 20.
Union opened the game with a quick basket, just 19 seconds into the game, by Kaitlin Dudley. But Freed-Hardeman rattled off seven straight points to take a 7-2 lead at the 17:08. Freed-Hardeman maintained a lead, including seven points on two different occasions. The Lady Lions held a a 19-12 with 10:25 left in the first half. Union then posted a 24-14 run to take a lead of 36-33 with 1:16 left in the half, capped off with a three pointer from Crystal Eason. After two made free throws from Freed-Hardeman’s Tara Deathridge, Union’s Jessica Graves sank a three pointer in the final seconds of the first half to send Union into the break leading 39-35.
In the second half, Union held the lead until a basket from Jana Cross of the Lady Lions gave her team a 44-43 lead. Freed-Hardeman continued their 17-8 run to match their biggest lead of the game at seven points, 58-51, with 11:29 left. Union cut the lead down to three points, but the Lady Lions quickly moved it back to seven at 62-55 with 9:32 left. Union, with the support of a packed Fred DeLay Gymnasium, held the Lady Lions scoreless over the next five minutes of play. During that time, Union posted a 10-0 run to take a three point lead, 65-62, with 4:56 left. Freed-Hardeman answered with four straight points to regain the lead in a game that produced five ties and 12 lead changes. Union regained the lead on the next possession with a three pointer from freshman Kayla Hudson. Two made free throws from Cross tied the game for Freed-Hardeman at 68-68 with 2:16 left. Union’s Dudley then made baskets on two straight possessions after the Lady Bulldogs held the Lady Lions scoreless in the final two minutes of play. Union edged out a very tough Freed-Hardeman team for the 72-68 win.
Union was led by Kaitlin Dudley with a game-high 25 points. Crystal Eason added 13 points, while Jessica Graves and Josephine Owino each added 11 points. Union shot 45-percent from the field, 33-percent (8-24) from behind the arc, and 80-percent (12-15) from the free throw line.
Freed-Hardeman was led by Jana Cross with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Megan Thompson added 13 points and Tara Deathridge added 11 points. The Lady Lions shot 47-percent from the field, 53-percent (8-15) from three-point range, and 75-percent (12-16) from the free throw line.
Up next for Union’s women will be a make-up game with No. 19 Trevecca Nazarene University (Tenn.) at home on Monday, February 25 at 6:00 pm. The men’s game will follow at 8:00 pm.
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