JACKSON, Tenn. – March 23, 2010– For the second straight year and the fifth time in school history, the Lady Bulldogs are NAIA national champions.
Union defeated Azusa Pacific University 73-65 Tuesday night in the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship title game at Oman Arena in Jackson.
"As a group, they accomplished so much more than any individual could," Union Coach Mark Campbell said at a campus celebration Wednesday. "Everybody, whether they believe it or not, longs to be a part of something that’s bigger than themselves. That's how I define this team."
The Lady Bulldogs overcame poor perimeter shooting in the first half, when they connected on only 3-of-15 from 3-point range. The shots started falling in the second half, with Kayla Hudson and Zeinab Chan leading Union down the stretch. Hudson sank three key 3-point shots and Chan scored 12 of her team-high 20 points in the second half.
One of Hudson’s treys came with 11:15 left and broke a 47-47 tie to give Union a lead it would never relinquish. A layup by Lavanda Ross with 28 seconds remaining put Union up by seven and sealed the win.
The Lady Bulldogs finish the season 36-2.
Since the start of the 2005 tournament, Union is 26-2 in tournament games. Both losses came in semifinals games, both by two points and both on shots made in the final 10 seconds. Union’s other national championships came in 1998, 2005, 2006 and 2009.
This year’s NAIA tournament saw two members of the Lady Bulldogs team set all-time school records. Hudson became Union’s career assists leader in the Lady Bulldogs’ first-round win over Southwestern Assemblies of God University. In Union’s semifinal win over Oklahoma City, senior guard Kaitlin Dudley surpassed Sandra Fitzgerald (1975-79) as the team’s all-time leading scorer. Dudley finishes her Union career with 2,385 points.
The 2010 title is the fourth for Union Coach Mark Campbell, who is 364-46 (a winning percentage of .888) since taking over the program in 1999. The 2010 tournament was the 19th straight for Union and the 21st overall, an NAIA record.
Chan won the tournament's MVP award. Chan and Dudley were named to the first-team all tournament team, and Campell was named the Phyllis Holmes Coach of the Year.