JACKSON, Tenn. - 3/7/2008 - Union University, the No. 1 ranked team in the NAIA and top seed in the TranSouth Conference Tournament, advanced to the title game with an 82-74 win over No. 20 Trevecca Nazarene University (Tenn.). With the win, Union stays perfect on the year at 31-0. Fourth seeded Trevecca Nazarene dropped to 19-11 on the year.
Union has now won 52 of their last 54 games dating back to January 11, 2007.
With the win, Union not only gets the opportunity to defend their conference title of a season ago, but to win their ninth TranSouth Tournament title in the 12-year history of the league. In fact, all 11 TranSouth Tournament titles in the history of the league have gone to either Union (eight times) or Monday’s opponent, Freed-Hardeman University (three times).
Monday night, March 10 versus Freed-Hardeman will be Union’s 14th conference tournament title game in the past 16 years. In those 14 title game appearances since 1992, Union is 10-4.
Trevecca Nazarene opened the game by scoring the first three points during a sluggish start by both teams. The Trojans pushed their lead to 11-6 with 12:45 left in the first half. Union, the NAIA’s top shooting team from the field, finally started to heat up. Union tied the game at 11-11 with 10:39 left and took their first lead at 19-17 with a basket from Kaitlin Dudley with 6:33 left before halftime. Union stretched their lead out to as many as 10 points at 35-25 and 38-28, but a basket from Mariska Reed late in the half cut Union’s halftime lead to 38-30.
In the second half, Trevecca Nazarene came out with the momentum as they cut Union’s lead down to just four points, 39-35. The Trojans got to within four points twice more over the first four-plus minutes of the second half, the latest coming 43-39 with 15:58 left in the game. Union quickly jumped back up by eight points on a three pointer by senior guard Crystal Eason. Union continued to lead but couldn’t put the Trojans away. Then with 9:19 left, Union used two free throws from Jessica Graves go up by 10 points, 65-55. Union held the double-digit advantage and led by as many as 16 points on two occasions, including 76-60 with 2:20 left. Over the final two minutes, Union managed 6-of-6 shooting from the free throw line with no field goals. However, Trevecca Nazarene kept the final few minutes interesting, scoring 14 points, including seven points off of three late Union turnovers to cut the final score to 82-74.
Union was led by Jessica Graves with 20 points, including 4-of-6 from behind the arc. Graves is a combined 8-of-10 from behind the arc in the two conference tournament games. TranSouth Player of the Year, Josephine Owino recorded double-double number 13 on the season with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Kaitlin Dudley posted 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Kayla Hudson tallied 14 points on four three pointers. Union shot 44-percent from the field, 39-percent (10-26) from behind the arc, and 86-percent (24-28) from the free-throw line.
Trevecca Nazarene was led by Mariska Reed with 22 points, including 4-of-5 from behind the arc. Abby Lawson and Kristin Archie each added 13 points. The Trojans shot 36-percent from the field, 36-percent (8-22) from three-point range, and 82-percent (18-22) from the free-throw line.
Up next, Union goes for their second straight TranSouth Tournament title on Monday night, March 10 when they host the second-seeded Freed-Hardeman Lady Lions at 7:00 pm.
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