NAIA era ends in loss for Lady ’Dogs
Posted: Friday, March 23, 2012 12:00 pm
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Oklahoma City captured the program’s sixth national championship Tuesday night with a 69-48 win over Union in the championship game of the 2012 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship 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.
“I’m just happy to see the journey our kids have gone on this season,” said Oklahoma City head coach Rob Edmisson. “We defended so well, especially on their All-American (Lavanda Ross). We held her (Ross) to very few looks and really made it tough for her to be effective.”
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 — and final — 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.
Union moves out of NAIA and into the NCAA ranks next season, going to Division II.
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, which entered the game allowing just 51.3 points per game this season and 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, 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, 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 McLau-ghlin joined Ross in double figures with 10 points.
Shelby Ashcraft added nine points and 11 rebounds. Published in The WCP 3.22.12