By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern
FRANKFORT, Ky. – (Box Score) No. 3 Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) won its first-ever national championship game in come-from-behind fashion, escaping No. 6 Talladega (Ala.), 97-94. The Saints were previously 0-2 in the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, having lost in the 2012 and 2013 first rounds.
The Saints, who are appearing in their third-straight national championship under head coach Christopher Minner, led for the first three minutes of the contest before falling behind Talladega. The Tornadoes capitalized on Our Lady of the Lake’s poor first half shooting—11-of-40 (27.5 percent) from the field—to build a 12-point halftime lead.
Talladega seemed in control, and almost-certainly headed to their first-ever national championship second round in their first national championship appearance, as they continued to hold a double-digit lead through the first seven minutes of the second half.
The Our Lady of the Lake bench came alive following a 3-pointer from junior forward Courtney Bayliss to pull the Saints within 13, forcing Talladega head coach Tarniesha Scott to call a timeout. The basket would prove to be a turning point in the contest for the Saints, as they would go on to rattle off 21-straight points.
At the end of the scoring streak, the Saints led by five, and the Tornadoes failed to recover. Our Lady of the Lake held the lead for the remainder of the contest, extending it as high as nine points before winning by three.
The Saints’ shot a lights-out 66.7 percent (24-of-36) during their second-half spurt, pulling their field goal percentage to 46.1 percent (35-of-76) for the contest. Bayliss led the way for Our Lady of the Lake with 29 points on 12-of-21 shooting (57.1 percent) from the field and 4-of-8 shooting (50.0 percent) from beyond the arc.
Senior forward Ryven Jackson was the Tornadoes’ leading scorer with 21 points and was also one of two players, along with senior forward Jamie Robinson, to record a double-double in the contest. Each team had five players score in double-digits.
Our Lady of the Lake (27-4) advances to its first-ever second round and will face the winner of No. 2 Georgetown (Ky.) and No. 7 Loyola (La.) at 8:00 p.m. EDT Friday.
With the loss, Talladega is eliminated from its first-ever national championship in the first round and ends the season with a 26-5 record.