JACKSON, Tenn. - 3/23/2010 - Union (Tenn.) University claimed its second consecutive NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship with a 73-65 victory over Azusa Pacific (Calif.) University. The Lady Bulldogs shot 15-of-30 (0.500) in the second half and 5-of-10 (0.500) from behind the arc to pull away from the Cougars down the stretch.
The first half of the game was back and forth, featuring 11 ties and five lead changes. After matching baskets for most of the half, Union took its largest lead with 5:45 remaining before intermission. Ashley Lillard knocked down two free throws to give Union a 25-20 advantage. C.J. Hill would answer for Azusa Pacific just 10 seconds later drilling a 3-pointer to bring the Cougars back within two points. Kristie Hala’ufia scored off of a Union turnover less than 30 seconds later to tie the score at 25-25 with 5:03 remaining in the half. Neither squad took more than a two point lead the rest of the half and entered the intermission knotted at 33-33.
APU knocked down 14-of-25 (0.560) shots in the first half, while Union shot just 11-of-32 (0.344) from the field. It was the Lady Bulldogs dominance on the glass that kept the game close in the first half. Union out-rebounded Azusa 12-4 on the offensive glass in the first half, leading to 13 second chance points.
Union jumped out to a quick lead in the second half, starting with a 7-0 run keyed by a Kaitlin Dudley 3-pointer, a basket by Zeinab Chan and two Jessica Graves free throws. Azusa pulled back within two points on Hala’ufia’s lay-in with 16:53 remaining and took a two-point lead at the 13:10 mark on Michelle Byrd’s 3-point basket. It would be Azusa’s only lead of the second half, as the Lady Bulldogs went on a 15-2 run over the next 5:30 to take a 60-49 lead. Kayla Hudson keyed the run knocking down three 3-point field goals during that span. The closest Azusa would get the rest of the way was a five-point deficit, 70-65, with 17 seconds remaining. Hudson and Dudley sealed the victory for Union, knocking down free throws in the final seconds for a 73-65 win.
Union out-rebounded the Cougars 40-26 overall in the game, 18-6 on the offensive end, which led to the Lady Bulldogs outscoring Azusa 16-7 in second chance points.
Tournament MVP, Zeinab Chan, led the Lady Bulldogs with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Kayla Hudson and LaVanda Ross scored 14 points each and Jessica Graves added 10 points. All-Tournament First Team member Kaitlin Dudley scored seven points.
Azusa Pacific was led by Kristie Hala’ufia’s 20 points. Alex Moore-Porter was also named to the All-Tournament First Team and netted 13 points for the Cougars. C.J. Hill and Michelle Byrd added 10 points each.
Union moves into a tie for second place with Oklahoma City and Southwestern Oklahoma with five national championships. The Lady Bulldogs passed Southern Nazarene (Okla.) for first place in all-time tournament wins with 59. The Lady Bulldogs have a 59-16 record in the tournament, while Southern Nazarene holds a 58-11 all-time record.
Union finishes its season with a 36-2 record, while Azusa Pacific ends its season at 29-7.
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