JACKSON, Tenn. - 11/15/2004 - The Jackson Rotary Club will host their 11th annual women’s basketball tournament starting Thursday, November 18 and going through Saturday, November 20. And for the second straight year, Union University’s Fred DeLay Gymnasium will be the site. This year’s Rotary Classic will feature four of the top six teams in the 2004 NAIA Pre-Season women’s basketball rankings. Participating teams will be No. 2 Vanguard University (Calif.), No. 3 Oklahoma City University, No. 4 Union University, No. 6 Freed-Hardeman University, University of Science & Arts (Okla.), and Lambuth University.
Last season, the tournament expanded from four teams to six teams which allowed Freed-Hardeman University to join Union and Lambuth in this event. The tournament set up will have three games a day with the three local teams playing each of the three out of town teams.
This tournament field is made up of some of the NAIA’s top programs. Oklahoma City and Union are ranked No. 3 and No. 4 in total NAIA National Tournament wins. Oklahoma City has 34 and Union has 33 total tournament wins. Also, in the history of the NAIA National Tournament, only one team has more appearances than Union’s 15. This six team field has a combined 44 national tournament appearances and an overall record of 88-38 (.698). These six teams have combined for five NAIA National Championship (OCU-4, Union-1), four second place finishes (OCU-2, Union-2), and five third place finishes (Union-2, FHU-1, USAO-1, VU-1).
The University of Science & Arts’ only NAIA National Tournament appearance was in 2003, when they went 3-1 with a final four appearance. Science & Arts plays in the always tough Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) that has boasted 10 of the past 11 NAIA National Champions. Only Union’s 1998 National Championship stands in the midst of the SAC’s dominance (Southern Nazarene 6 titles, Oklahoma City 4 titles). Staying in that conference, Oklahoma City has been to the nationals 10 times and has a 34-5 (.872) record in tournament play. They have earned four national titles, two second place finishes, and one third place finish. Their four national titles came consecutively from 1999-2002.
The third team coming into West Tennessee for the Rotary Classic will be Vanguard University out of Costa Mesa, California. Vanguard plays in the Golden State Athletic Conference where they have won five conference championships. They have made six trips to the NAIA National Tournament and have a 6-6 (.500) overall record with one third place finish.
Union, Freed-Hardeman, and Lambuth combine for 27 of the 44 total appearances represented in the Rotary Classic field. Union has 15 national tournament appearances and have boasted a 34-14 (.702) overall record, including the 1998 NAIA National Championship, two second place finishes and two third place finishes. Freed-Hardeman has been to the nationals eight times and have a 9-8 (.529) overall record. Freed-Hardeman earned one third place finish. Lambuth University has been to the national tournament four times and has a 3-4 (.429) tournament record.
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