Jackson, Tenn. - 3/18/2002 - Sophomore guard Kesha Watson’s steal and ensuing three-point play with :15 left in overtime pushed Oklahoma City University past Union (Tenn.) University 82-76 Monday night and into the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship game.
The No. 2-seeded Stars (35-2) will try to become just the second team in NAIA women’s basketball history to win four consecutive national titles when they face Sooner Athletic Conference rival and top-seeded Southern Nazarene (Okla.) University in the championship game at 7 p.m. CST Tuesday at Oman Arena. Southern Nazarene (33-4) defeated Central State (Ohio) University 87-77 in Monday’s first semifinal game.
Oklahoma City appeared to have its semifinal game won in regulation time until Union sophomore forward Jessica Henson drilled a three-pointer from 24 feet off the right side with :03 on the clock to tie the game at 71-71 and send it into overtime.
In the extra session, Oklahoma City outscored the third-seeded Lady Bulldogs 11-5 to advance to its fourth straight national title game and fifth overall.
Senior guard Jhudy Gonzalez led the way for Oklahoma City with 27 points. She also collected eight rebounds and five assists. Senior forward Rita Banks added 24 points and grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds. Watson also reached double figures with 13 points.
Union’s Christal Merriweather hit 3-of-4 three-pointers and finished with 16 points. The 5-foot-6 sophomore guard pulled down a team-leading 12 rebounds and handed out four assists.
Six-foot-four freshman center Allison Harrison also scored 16 points for the Lady Bulldogs, while Henson chipped in with 13 points, and junior forward Tasheika Brown added 11. Henson, Union’s leading scorer on the season, was held to just 4-of-18 shooting from the field.
Tuesday night’s championship game will mark the fourth meeting of the season between Oklahoma City and Southern Nazarene. The Crimson Storm won two of the three match-ups, including an 84-75 victory in the finals of the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament. Southern Nazarene is the only school to win four consecutive NAIA championships (1994-97). The Crimson Storm is in the championship game for the seventh time. They have won five national titles.
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