JACKSON, Tenn. - 3/22/2010 - Union (Tenn.) University defeated Oklahoma City University 63-61 in the first semifinal game of the 2010 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship. Union advances to their seventh NAIA title game, looking for a fifth national title.
In the game, senior guard Kaitlin Dudley became Union’s all-time leader in points with a 21 point effort. She needed just 15 to tie the mark set by Sandra Fitzgerald (1975-79). Dudley now has 2,378 career points.
The game started with Zeinab Chan putting Union up 2-0 off the opening tip. Union led 3-0 on 1-of-2 free throws from Chan at the 18:35 mark. Chan scored nine of Union’s first 16 points, helping the Lady Bulldogs to a 16-13 lead at the 15:04 mark. After the Stars cut the deficit down to one point, a three pointer from Lauren Gober gave Oklahoma City a brief 18-16 lead at the 11:46 mark. Union then posted and 11-3 run to lead 27-21 lead with 8:53 to play.
Oklahoma City, winners of five NAIA national titles, was looking to advance to their first title game since a loss to Union in the final game of 2005. The Stars responded to Union’s run with a 13-0 run of their own to jump out to a 34-27 lead at the 3:58 mark. Union was held scoreless for seven minutes of play, until Dudley’s basket with 1:23 left ended the drought. Oklahoma City’s Chontaye Walter drove the paint for a basket with three seconds left in the half to put the Stars up 38-31 at the half. Walker, along with Union’s Chan matched each other with 13 first-half points.
The second half started with the Stars getting a basket from Starr Fairbanks, giving Oklahoma City their largest lead of the game, 40-31. With Oklahoma City leading 42-33 at the 18:47 mark, Union made their run to get back into the game. Over the next eight minutes, Union outscored the Stars 16-6 to regain the lead 49-48. Union’s Dudley scored 10 points during that run, including two three pointers.
Donica Crosby promptly made a three pointed to stop the Union run, putting the Stars back on top 51-49 with 11:36 to play. However, Union answered with 10 of the next 15 points to regain the lead at 59-56 with 5:26 to play. Both teams swapped baskets to set the score at 61-58 in favor of Union at the 2:16 mark. Then with 1:22 left in the game, Walter tied the game for Oklahoma City with a three pointer.
On Union’s next possession, senior Ashley Lillard was fouled and sent to the line for two free throws with 51 seconds left. The 74 percent free-throw shooter made both to give Union the 63-61 lead. The Stars missed a three pointer on the next possession, got their own rebound but turned the ball over. Union’s Dudley went to free-throw line with 22 seconds left, but the 85 percent shooter missed the front end of a one-and-one. The Stars got the ball back down by two, but steal by Jessica Graves and an Oklahoma City foul put Union back at the line. Graves, also an 85 percent free throw shooter, missed the front end with six seconds left. A three pointer by Walter was partially blocked by Lavanda Ross to secure Union’s spot in the title game.
Union had made 7-of-8 free throws in the game before the final 22 seconds, finishing the game 7-of-10. Union shot 42 percent from the field, but just 29 percent (4-14) from behind the arc. Oklahoma City finished the game shooting 41 percent from the field and 43 percent (9-21) from long range. The Stars opened the by making six of their first 10 three pointers.
Union was led by Chan with a game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds. Dudley’s record setting night ended with 21 points, 16 coming in the final 20 minutes. Ross was the next highest for Union with nine points, seven of which came in the first half.
Oklahoma City was led by Fairbanks and Walter with 16 points each. Cosby added 10 points and Holly Hardin grabbed 11 rebounds.
Union (35-2) will advance to the title game on Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. versus the Lee (Tenn.)/Azusa Pacific (Calif.) winner. Oklahoma City ends their season with a 32-4 record.
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