March 22, 2008
By NAIA National Office
March 22, 2008
JACKSON, Tenn. - Three representatives of the TranSouth Athletic Conference, all located in Tennessee, advanced to the semifinals with wins Saturday at the 28th Annual NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Championship. No. 1-seeded Union (Tenn.) University is joined in the semifinals by a pair of No. 2 seeds, Vanguard (Calif.) University and Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) University, along with sixth-seeded Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) University.
Union has the most experience this deep in the NAIA Tournament, as the Lady Bulldogs make their ninth overall and fourth consecutive semifinals appearance. Vanguard can match Union's four semifinals appearances since 2003, although it has never advanced to a national title contest. Freed-Hardeman, a five-time national quarterfinalist, will be making just its second-ever appearance in the Final Four. Trevecca Nazarene is the Final Four newcomer after turning its fourth consecutive quarterfinals appearance into the program's first-ever trip to the semifinals.
Last season, Lambuth won the NAIA title as one of three TranSouth Athletic Conference semifinalists, and it made its national championship run despite bringing no previous national tournament experience beyond the second round.
The four-game quarterfinals session drew a total attendance of 2,820, bringing the four-day attendance total to 15,251.
Freed-Hardeman and Trevecca Nazarene will square off in the first semifinal contest on Monday at 6 p.m., while Union and Vanguard will meet in the 8 p.m. matchup.
Game 25: Sixth-seeded Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) University continued to send higher-seeded teams home, this time posting a 68-50 win over fourth-seeded Loyola (La.) University New Orleans. Trevecca Nazarene defeated the No. 2 (Langston), No. 3 (Southern Nazarene) and now No. 4-seeded Loyola to advance to its first national semifinals in program history. Trevecca Nazarene held a 16-point halftime advantage, 39-23, and used an 8-2 run to start the half to push its lead to 22 points. The Trojans led by 22 points on three occasions in the second half, with the latest coming at 64-42 with 3:56 left in the game before coasting in to the 68-50 final. Trevecca Nazarene enters the semifinals with a 22-11 record, and Loyola wraps up the season at 28-7 overall.
Game 26: Second-seeded Vanguard (Calif.) University held fourth-seeded Carroll (Mont.) College without a field goal for an eight-minute stretch, and the Lions advanced to their third straight semifinals appearance with a 71-56 quarterfinal victory. Carroll led for the game's first 10 minutes, but sophomore guard Bridgette Reyes made a pair of free throws with 8:56 left in the first half to give Vanguard its first lead of the game at 13-11, and the Lions never trailed again. The Fighting Saints went the final five minutes of the period, as well as nearly three minutes to start the second half, without a field goal. During that time, Vanguard went on a 16-1 run, with senior forward Melissa Cook's putback giving the Lions a 39-18 lead with 17:44 remaining in the game. Vanguard forced 28 Fighting Saints turnovers, turning those opportunities into a 25-3 edge in points off turnovers. The Lions were led by junior forward Lauren Gregory's 22 points, which included five-of-eight three-pointers, and Cook was just one rebound short of a double-double, registering 17 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Carroll was limited to just 18 first-half points, and the Fighting Saints made just one-of-13 first-half three-point attempts before heating up to hit seven-of-12 after halftime. Vanguard improved its overall record to 27-5, while Carroll's deepest tournament run in its five all-time appearances ends in the quarterfinals, ending the Fighting Saints' campaign at 27-6 overall.
Game 27: Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) University went on a 15-0 run early in the second half, turning what had been a seven-point halftime deficit into a double-digit lead, clinching the Lady Lions' second Final Four appearance in the program's history with a 76-70 victory over Lubbock Christian (Texas) University. The win was the 600th career victory for Freed-Hardeman head coach Dale Neal, who has led the Lady Lions to 366 wins in his 14 seasons, during which he has guided the program to 12 consecutive NAIA Tournament appearances that represent Freed-Hardeman's entire national tournament history. Sophomore forward Jana Cross scored a game-high 27 points, including 19 in Freed-Hardeman's 51-point second half. Cross had seven points, including her first three-pointer of the season, in the 15-point spurt that gave her team a 46-36 lead with 12:37 remaining in the game and turned the game in favor of the Lady Lions for good.
Game 28: The Union (Tenn.) University Lady Bulldogs, the No. 1 overall, remained perfect on the season with an 82-57 win over No. 3 seed Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) College. The win for Union advances them to their fourth straight semifinal round and ninth semifinal in program history. Lewis-Clark State's 4-2 early lead proved to be short-lived as Union posted a 7-0 run to go up 9-4 with 16:21 left in the first half. Union posted 23-4 run that helped the Union lead balloon to 20 points, 34-14 with 2:57 left in the half. Lewis-Clark State tried to remain close as 7-0 run to close the half put Union's halftime lead at 34-21. The Lady Bulldogs held the 13-point halftime lead with junior All-American Josephine Owino being held scoreless in the first half. Owino finished the game with a season low six points. Union opened the second half with a 9-2 run to go back up by 20. Union stretched the lead to as many 29 points, 72-43, on a three-pointer from Jackson native Lindsey Flynn with 6:46 left in the game. Union coasted to the 82-57 final as both teams emptied their benches in the final minutes.
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.