JACKSON, Tenn. - 3/23/2009 -
25-Point Margin Of Victory Is Third-Largest In Semifinals In NAIA History
After a slow start, No. 1-seeded Union (Tenn.) University pulled away for a 73-48 win, recording the third-largest margin of victory in an NAIA Tournament semifinal over No. 1-seeded Oklahoma Baptist Monday night at the 29th Annual NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship.
Union came a point away from matching the 26-point margin of victory it posted in a 2005 semifinal victory over Point Loma Nazarene. The largest semifinal margin of victory in NAIA Tournament history was set in 1985, when Saginaw Valley (Mich.) posted a 71-33 win over Midland Lutheran (Neb.).
In the opening cold spell, Union missed seven straight shots and turned the ball over three times, while Oklahoma Baptist missed 10 straight from the field to start the game along with three turnovers and a pair of missed free throws. Lavanda Ross made one-of-two free throws with 16:31 to play in the half for the game’s only point in the first nearly seven minutes of play. Josephine Owino scored the game’s first field goal, giving Union a 3-0 lead with 13:06 remaining in the period. Oklahoma Baptist broke its scoreless drought with a Taujhnae Travis bucket just over eight minutes into the game.
Union heated up quickly, though, making 15-of-23 (.652) from the field over the rest of the half beginning with Owino’s first two of 14 points. The Lady Bulldogs finished the half on a 12-0 run, capped by Kayla Hudson’s buzzer-beating three-pointer from the left wing that sent Union into halftime with a 34-18 lead. After the teams traded two points to start the second half, Union reeled off another run, this time a 10-0 spurt that pushed the lead to 46-20 with 15:53 to play. Zeinab Chan completed a three-point play with 6:18 remaining in the game that gave Union its largest lead of the game at 66-32.
Of her 14 points and 11 rebounds, Owino tallied 10 points and 9 rebounds in the first half alone, and Chan led all scorers with a 23-point performance on 11-of-16 shooting from the field. Union shot 31-for-59 (.525) from the field in the game, a clip that improved to .596 after the Lady Bulldogs’ first seven missed shots. Kaitlin Dudley added 12 points, Ross added 10 points, and Christina Ray dished out a game-high six assists.
Oklahoma Baptist was led by Travis’ 17-point, 10-rebound double-double, and Natasha Hogg added 14 points and six rebounds off the bench for the Lady Bison. Ashley Harrell had five blocks to go with seven points and four rebounds, scoring five points in a 9-2 first-half run that cut an 11-point Union lead to four points at 20-16 with 4:17 remaining in the half.
Union (36-1) advances to its sixth NAIA championship game, where the Lady Bulldogs have won each of their past three title game appearances (1998, 2005, 2006). Union will face the winner of Monday’s other semifinal between five-time NAIA champion Oklahoma City and the 2007 NAIA champion, Lambuth (Tenn.). Oklahoma Baptist, which was appearing in its first-ever national semifinals, finishes its season with a 32-5 overall record.
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