"Just like any tournament that you go to, you've got to get by that first one," said Oklahoma City head coach Bo Overton. "I thought our players were a little out of sync in the first half, but a lot of that had to do with their team (MNU). I think we adjusted in the second half and played a lot smarter."
MidAmerica Nazarene’s Whitney Moia scored the game’s first basket and Pioneers controlled the pace of the first quarter. OCU’s Daniella Wallen turned a MidAmerica Nazarene turnover into a basket and gave the Stars their first lead of the game, 12-11. MNU led at the end of a low-scoring half, 18-14.
Two free throws by Janae Haaggave gave Oklahoma City their second lead of the game, 19-18, at the 8:02 mark of the third quarter. Over the next couple of possessions there were two lead changes and two ties. A free throw by OCU’s Brooke Irwin gave the Stars a lead they would build to eight.
Oklahoma City led by 10, 42-32, with six minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Pioneers then went on a 7-0 run to trim the lead to three. The teams then traded baskets on the next four possessions. With 28 seconds left in the third quarter, MNU’s Jayden Oliver hit a 3-pointer give the Pioneers their first lead of the second half, 47-46.
The teams opened the fourth quarter by trading baskets and the lead. Two free throws by OCU’s Daniela Wallen broke a 53-53 tie to give the Stars the lead they would not lose.
Haag hit a 3-pointer, which started a 7-0 Oklahoma City run to seal the Stars’ first round victory. Wallen, the nation’s scoring leader, led OCU with 20 points and 10 rebounds for her 16th double-double of the season.
"Daniela Wallen and Daniela Galindo they brought us home in the fourth quarter - that's what they're there for," added Overton. "You could see the intensity in their eyes."
Whitney Moia led MidAmerican Nazarene with a career-high 18 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3 steals.
MidAmerican closes their season at 18-14.
Okahoma City, in their 23rd national championship and 19th consecutive, improves to 31-2. The Stars will play Friday morning at 10:45 a.m. MDT against the winner of the Montana Western-Columbia (Mo.) game.