HENDERSON, Tenn. - 2/17/2007 - The fifth ranked Union University Lady Bulldogs posted their 14th straight win with a 71-67 victory over Freed-Hardeman University (Tenn.) on Saturday afternoon. Union, now 23-4 on the season and a league best 14-2 in the TranSouth, have clinched at least a share of the TranSouth title with a two game lead and just two games left in the season. Freed-Hardeman, ranked No. 14, dropped to 19-9 on the season and 11-5 in league play.
Freed-Hardeman jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, however, Union answered back with an 8-0 run of their own. This would be the pace of the game over the next several minutes. Union was finally able to post their biggest lead of the day at nine points, 25-16, midway through the first half. But Freed-Hardeman proved they would not go away, despite playing without their leading scoring and rebounder, Stacy Myers. Union held off the Lady Lion rally to take a 37-33 halftime advantage.
Union proved their NAIA No. 1 field goal percentage with 53-pecent shooting from the field in the first half, including 40-percent (2-5) from behind the arc. Union sophomore Josepine Owino scored 14 first half points to lead Union. Freed-Hardeman shot 39-percent from the field in the first half, including just 25-percent (2-8) from behind the arc. Freshman standout Jana Cross led the way for the Lady Lions with 16 first half points.
The second half was typical of the recent battles with numerous lead changes in the final 20 minutes. Owino and Cross were silenced for the most part after big first halves for their respective teams. However it was Union’s Natanya Smith and Freed-Hardeman’s Ashley Helton who answered the second half call to lead their teams down the stretch. Both squads answered the other over the final 20 minutes before the teams reached the final minutes tied 67-67. Despite making just 2-of-4 free throws in the final minute, Union was able to seal the four-point win with an Ena Daniels steal and two Natanya Smith offensive rebounds during that stretch.
Union finished the game shooting 51-percent from the field, and just 25-percent (2-8) from behind the arc. Also for the game, Union managed just 53-percent shooting from the free throw line (9-17). Freed-Hardeman closed the game at 44-percent shooting, making 33-percent (6-18) of their three pointers. Freed-Hardeman proved their NAIA top-10 free throw percent ranking by making 81-percent (17-21) from the line.
Union was led by Josephine Owino with 20 points. Natanya Smith recorded her third straight double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Jessica Graves also added 15 points for Union.
Freed-Hardeman was led by Jana Cross with 22 points and Ashley Helton with 18 points, including 12-of-12 from the free throw line. Senior leader Kari Bishop added 17 points on 4-of-5 shooting from behind the arc.
Up next for Union will be another rival game as cross-town foe, No. 22 Lambuth University (Tenn.) comes to Union on Thursday, February 22 for senior night at Fred DeLay Gymnasium. Union closes out the season on Saturday, February 24 at Martin Methodist College (Tenn.). Union can clinch their 10th regular season crown (co-champs in 2004) in the past 12 years with a win in one of their next two games. The Lady Bulldogs have already guaranteed at least a share of the 2007 regular season title.
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