March 26, 2008
For Immediate Release
Contact: Scott Cummings, Tournament Media Coordinator, 816-513-5402
Click here to learn more about the 2008 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - (All-Tournament Team)(Final Bracket) Oklahoma City University won its national championship with a 75-72 victory Tuesday against Mountain State University (W.Va.) in the title game of the 2008 Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I National Championship at Municipal Auditorium.
The Stars added to their NAIA record with their sixth national championship and became the first team since Life University (Ga.) in 1999 and 2000 to claim back-to-back NAIA Division I titles with its win on Tuesday. Oklahoma City also became the first No. 7 seed since seeding information was first recorded in 1957 to earn the crown. The Stars won their last 15 games to close out the season with an overall record of 31-7.
Senior forward Willie Irick led Oklahoma City with 22 points, while senior guard Kameron Gray, who was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player for the second consecutive year, added 20 points and four assists in the winning effort. Forward Ollie Bailey registered a double-double with 15 points and a game-high 16 rebounds for the Stars.
"That's our goal every year," said Oklahoma City head coach Ray Harper. "If we're going to play the games, our goal is going to be to win the national championship. I told the returning seniors we were going to win and win right now."
Oklahoma City took a 73-64 lead with 14 seconds to play after Gray made one of two free throws. Senior guard James Spencer hit a three-pointer with eight seconds left to help pull Mountain State within 73-67. Gray was fouled on the inbounds play and hit both foul shots to extend the Stars' lead back to 75-67. The Cougars quickly came down court and cut the deficit to 75-70 on a three-pointer by senior guard Adron Marshall with three seconds remaining.
Spencer stole the inbounds pass and scored on a layup with 1.7 seconds on the clock to help bring Mountain State within 75-72. Oklahoma City was able to inbound the ball to Irick, who wrapped up the basketball to preserve the Stars' victory.
There were four ties and four lead changes in the first half before Oklahoma City grabbed the lead for good late in the period. The Stars used an 11-2 run to take a 29-21 lead in the final minute of the half. Gray and junior guard Richard Jackson closed the spurt with consecutive three-pointers. A free throw by Marshall helped bring Mountain State within 29-22 at the intermission.
Oklahoma City built its lead to 18 points on two different occasions in the second half, the last coming at 65-47 following a three-point field goal by Irick with 5:16 on the clock. Mountain State chipped away at the deficit, outscoring the Stars 25-10 the remainder of the contest, but could not overcome the advantage held by Oklahoma City.
Senior center Jason McGriff scored 14 of his team-high 22 points in the second half for Mountain State. He also pulled down a team-leading 11 rebounds. Senior guard Jarvis Jackson chipped in with 13 of his 15 points after halftime, while Spencer finished with 14 points. Mountain State, the No. 5 seed in the 32-team field, had its eight-game win streak snapped and finished the year with an overall record of 34-3. The Cougars were seeking their second NAIA national championship as they won the 2004 title game against Concordia University.
"We had tired legs to start and our shots weren't falling, but Oklahoma City is a good defensive team," said Mountain State head coach Bob Bolen. "I am so proud of our kids and their effort and how they played. It was five games in seven days and that takes a toll on both teams."
Oklahoma City was making its third straight NAIA title game appearance, becoming the first team since Kentucky State University from 1970-72 to achieve the feat. The Stars were defeated in the 2006 championship game by Texas Wesleyan University, 67-65.
*Dropped to 1-2 all-time in NAIA Tournament championship games. Mountain State lost the 2003 title contest to Concordia (Calif.) 88-84 in overtime before winning the 2004 crown over Concordia, 74-70.
*The Cougars were held to a season-low 22 points in the first half.
*Jason McGriff recorded his eighth double-double of the season.
*Lost its three games in 2007-08 by a combined total of five points.
*Extended its NAIA record of national championships to six.
*Has won its last 10 tournament games and 14 of its last 15 dating back to the 2006 event.
*Becomes the first team since Life University (Ga.) in 1999 and 2000 to earn back-to-back national championships.
*Oklahoma City notched its 47th tournament win, moving past Central Washington for sole possession of third place on the all-time list. The Stars trail Georgetown College (Ky.), which has a record 49 wins, and Oklahoma Baptist, which has 48 victories.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) is the governing body for athletics programs at its nearly 300 colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. The long-held mission of the NAIA is to promote the education and development of well-rounded students and productive citizens through intercollegiate athletics. The association offers equitable access and opportunities for participation in its 23 national championship events held annually throughout the country.
Today, the NAIA strengthens its commitment to student-athletes and strives to enrich their college experience by supporting academic achievement and character development. NAIA Champions of Character is the association's innovative flagship program designed to instill character values in student-athletes, coaches and youth in the communities it serves.