The top-seeded Stars repeated as national champions Tuesday night by outlasting fellow No. 1 Campbellsville (Ky.), 80-63, in the 2015 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Susan G. Komen Greater Kansas City.
With a gloomy and rainy day taking place outside the arena during the game, Oklahoma City was all smiles on the Independence Events Center floor after the final horn sounded.
“It is absolutely amazing,” Oklahoma City head coach Latricia Trammell said. “It feels just as good as it did last year, especially with this group of seniors. I am so proud of our girls. They really fought this game.”
“We wanted it, and we knew this was it. I knew we had to continue to rebound and do what we do best – and that is transition – and I thought we did a really good job with that.”
With the victory, the Stars (30-2) have hoisted the national championship banner three times in the last four seasons. Collectively – in 21 visits to the national championship – Oklahoma City now owns an NAIA-high eight titles and 66 championship wins, the most of any school.
For most of the national championship, the Stars have got out large leads – only to watch the opposition go on runs to get back into contention – and then pull away at the end.
Tonight was no different.
In the first few minutes of action, neither team could get anything going offensively. After both school’s started to figure one another out, Oklahoma City stepped on the gas pedal. After holding a four-point lead at 21-17 with 8:10 -remaining in the first half, the Stars ballooned their lead to 12 after going on an 8-0 run in less than three minutes.
Ouleymatou Coulibaly made her presence felt early and often from the start. The senior center recorded 13 points and five rebounds to help her squad go into the locker room up, 39-26. Rateska Brown also chipped in 12 at the half.
The Stars shot 16-of-34 (47.1 percent) in the first 20 minutes.
Lindey Young, who drew the assignment of going up against Coulibaly, was a bright spot for the Lady Tigers. Young had 14 of her team’s 26 points going into the locker room.
The final session proved to be much of the same as Coulibaly continued to dominant on the interior and Brown took over the show in the second half – scoring 17 additional points.
Campbellsville had no answers for the Stars’ duo, as their play helped Oklahoma City extend the lead to 18 on two occasions. The Lady Tigers were able to get the deficit down to 10 points (70-60) at the 3:47 point, but it was too little, too late.
The Stars finished the matchup with offense spread across the board, with four players hitting double-figures, led by Brown’s 29. Coulibaly – who averaged 12 points and almost seven rebounds in the championship – finished with 19 and 14 boards, for her 12th double-double of the season.
Marisha Wallace and Championship Most Valuable Player, Yvonte Neal each tallied 11 points.
Oklahoma City is now 9-1 against Campbellsville, and have beaten the Lady Tigers in back-to-back national championships (79-76).
Campbellsville, making their first trip to the semifinals and final game in 23 appearances, drop to 33-4 as 2014-15 comes to a close.
Young had a team-high 16, and she was joined in double-figures by Caroline Owen (10) and Emily Fox (10).
2015 NAIA DI Women’s Basketball All-Championship Team
Lindsey Burd, Campbellsville (Ky.)
Grace Alonso de Armino, Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)
Haley Newby, Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)
Rateska Brown, Oklahoma City
A’Jha Edwards, Montana State-Northern
Tayla Foster, Bethel (Tenn.)
Caroline Owen, Campbellsville (Ky.)
Erin Legel, Great Falls (Mont.)
Ouleymatou Coulibaly, Oklahoma City
Kristin Karr, Westmont (Calif.)
Championship Most Valuable Player: Yvonte Neal, Oklahoma City
NAIA Hustle Award: Chelsea Craig, Campbellsville (Ky.)
2015 Phyllis Holmes Coach of the Year: Latricia Trammell, Oklahoma City