JACKSON, Tenn. - 3/21/2005 - The Union University (Tenn.) Lady Bulldogs used a 17-5 run to open the second half, and the hot-shooting of freshman guard Merideth Richardson to oust Point Loma Nazarene University (Calif.) 84-58 in the semifinals of the NAIA National Tournament.
This is the first trip to the NAIA National Championship game for Union since their 1998 title.
Richardson connected on 7-of-12 from behind the three-point line in the second half, as she helped the Lady Bulldogs pull away from Point Loma Nazarene and into the national championship game.
The freshman scored 12 consecutive points for Union, all three-pointers, in a span of two minutes to extend the Union lead to 19 points at 73-54.
Richardson’s run started in the run that the Lady Bulldogs opened the second half with, as she scored eight points during that run – including two three-pointers. Ena Daniels stepped up and helped the Lady Bulldogs pull away as she recorded six points during the run.
The second half may have belonged to Richardson, but not after a first half in which the two teams battled until the halftime buzzer.
After jumping out to a nine-point lead in the first half (16-7), Union found itself playing from behind the for four minutes before senior center Stephanie Clark took over. After Point Loma Nazarene center Mica DeHoog went to the bench with her third foul, Clark scored her team’s final five points of the first half and gave the Lady Bulldogs a 38-32 lead at intermission. Clark ended the first half by scoring 11 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Union used a stifling defense in the first half as they forced the Sea Lions into nine turnovers, in which the Lady Bulldogs came up with seven steals. All seven steals produced points on the other end for Union in their run to open the game, and their run to close out the first half.
Union finished the night shooting 43.1 (31-for-72) percent from the floor, while connecting on 40.6 (13-for-32) from behind the arc.
The Lady Bulldogs were led by Richardson’s 31 points as she connected on 9-of-17 three-pointers for the game. Daniels added 19 points and six rebounds, while Clark added 17 points and 15 rebounds.
Point Loma Nazarene shot 41.4 (24-for-58) percent from the floor, while only hitting on just 25 (3-for-12) percent from behind the line.
The Sea Lions were led DeHoog with 15 points, while Jessica Mercado and Kelsi Sousa added 12 each.
Point Loma Nazarene, playing in their fourth NAIA National Tournament and their first NAIA Final Four in school history, end the season at 33-5.
Union (34-5) will play top-seeded Oklahoma City University (32-6) for the NAIA National Championship on Tuesday night at 6 pm. The game will be carried live by CSTV.
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