JACKSON, Tenn. - 3/18/2011 - The No. 1 Union (Tenn.) University women’s basketball team posted an 81-69 win over Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) University in the second round of the 2011 NAIA DI Women’s Basketball Championships. Union improved to 33-1 on the season, while Olivet Nazarene ended their season at 27-7.
Union’s defense held the NAIA’s top offensive team to just 69 points, 36 below their 105 points per game average. Union ranks No. 3 in the NAIA in fewest points allowed per game with 54.6 per game.
Union opened the game with a three pointer from Kayla Bryant as the Lady Bulldogs jumped out to a 7-2 lead. Olivet Nazarene responded to take a 11-9 lead and then led again 16-14 at the 13:40 mark of the first half. The game was tied at 16-16 at the 12:35 mark when Union exploded for a 26-7 run to lead by 19 points, 42-23.
Union seemed to have all the momentum, but the frantic pace of Olivet Nazarene began to wear down the tournament’s top seed. With 15 players, including five new subs every 40 seconds, Olivet Nazarene pressed on every possession during the entire ballgame. The Tigers slowly started to rally and at the half, had cut Union’s lead down to just five points (42-37) following a three pointer by Danielle Tolbert at the buzzer.
The second half started with Union still in an offensive slump. Union scored their 42nd point at the 5:51 mark of the first half. They did not score again until a layup by Kayla Hudson at the 14:57 mark of the second half, ending a drought that lasted just shy of 11 minutes. Olivet pulled to within one point at 42-41 with 16:56 left, before two of Hudson’s game-high 30 points stopped the run.
Union maintained a narrow lead, but with 3:33 left in the game, Olivet Nazarene got a three pointer from Danielle Pipal with put the Tigers up 66-65. Union’s Hudson answered again on the next possession to put Union back on top for good. Union closed out the final three minutes of the game by outscoring Olivet Nazarene 16-3 to seal the win.
Hudson led Union with 30 points, including 16 in the second half. She drained 5-of-10 three pointers and made 7-of-8 free throws, including 5-of-6 in the final 1:12 seconds. Sarah Chan added 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Lavanda Ross scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Union shot 44 percent from the field, 32 percent (7-22) from long range and 72 percent ( 18-25) from the free throw line.
Olivet Nazarene was led by Tolbert with 16 points and Simone Coburn with 10 points. Fifteen players played for Olivet with each player earning between 13 and 15 minutes played. Thirteen of the 15 players scored at least two points in the game.
Up next for Union will be a quarterfinal game versus Westminster (Utah) at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday at Oman Arena in Jackson.
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