March 20, 2008
By NAIA National Office
March 19, 2008
JACKSON, Tenn. - The 28th Annual NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Championship opened play at Oman Arena Wednesday. In the eight games, the higher seed prevailed in five of the matchups, including the tournament's top seeded Union. Among the upsets, No. 1 seeded Oklahoma City, No. 2 seeded Oklahoma Baptist, and No. 4 St. Xavier fell in the first round.
The eight remaining first-round games will be played Thursday, beginning with the day's first contest at 9 a.m.
In the first game of the tournament, Lubbock Christian (Texas) University, a five-seed, opened with an 81-78 win over fourth-seeded St. Xavier (Ill.) University. In a game that looked to over soon after it started, St. Xavier rallied from a 21-point second half deficit to tie the game. The Lady Chaps of Lubbock Christian (24-9) opened the game with a 9-0 run and led by as many as 20 points in the first half before entering halftime with a 42-25 lead. With 6:33 left to play, St. Xavier completed the comeback and tied the game at 63-But Lubbock Christian's Wilcox-Lovorn sank two free throws to put the lead at 81-78. Leading the way for the Lady Chaps was Bailey St. Clair with 17 points.
Game two saw eighth-seeded Harris-Stowe State College (Mo.) Hornets pulled off a 73-64 upset over first-seeded Oklahoma City University Stars. Senior guard Erica Anderson scored 14 of her 17 points in the second half, knocking down 6-of-8 from the field after halftime as the Hornets made 70 percent (14-of-20) of their second-half field goal attempts. Senior guard Chanel Ross scored a game-high 19 points. The victory was the first national tournament win in program history for Harris-Stowe State, which was making its second national tournament appearance. A year ago, the Hornets were a No. 8 seed that nearly upset eventual national semifinalist Vanguard in a 74-64 opening-round loss. Oklahoma City, which finishes the season with a 28-5 record, suffered its first opening-round defeat in 11 national tournament appearances since 1994.
In the third game of the day, Lee (Tenn.) University avoided becoming the second No. 1 seed to fall in day one with a 66-60 win over eighth seeded Brescia (Ky.) University. This win marked the first for Lee in the national tournament, and also avenged an opening round loss to an eighth seeded Brescia team in last year's tournament. The Lee Lady Flames (32-2) posted their 27th straight win of the by stretched the lead out to 66-58, before winning 66-60.
The fourth game of the day was a back-and-forth battle, Carroll (Mont.) College defeated Westmont (Calif.) College 61-59. The game featured 11 ties and 13 lead changes before Carroll rallied for the last time inside four minutes remaining to take the lead for good. Westmont tied the game at 59-59 on a field goal from Ali Mooty with 3:12 left. That proved to be the final field goal of the game. Carroll made 2-of-4 free throws down the stretch and held Westmont scoreless for the final 3:12 to earn the 61-59 win.
Game five boasted Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) College, a seven seed, recording the third upset through the first five games of the tournament with a 78-74 win over No. 2 seed Oklahoma Baptist University. Lindsey Wilson led by as many as 21 points in the second half after trailing 33-32 at halftime. OBU's Bison held a 33-32 lead at the half. Lindsey Wilson posted an 8-2 run to start the second half, taking their first lead of the game. Oklahoma Baptist cut the Lindsey Wilson lead down to just six points, 77-71, but only 29 seconds remained. After 1-of-2 free throws from Lindsey Wilson's Krystal Jackson, the Blue Raider lead was seven points with 17 seconds left. A late three pointer from OBU's Jayme Glover cut the final score to 78-74.
Game six produced one of the largest come-from-behind victories in tournament history. Fourth-seeded The Master's (Calif.) College came back from a 23-point second-half deficit for a 99-95 victory over fifth-seeded Olivet Nazarene (Ill.). Olivet Nazarene's junior guard Courtney Hehn broke a 17-year old tournament record for three-point attempts in a game, knocking down eight of 19 from long range for a team-high 24 points. The previous record of 18 was set in 1991 by Minnesota-Duluth's Kelli Ritzer. The Master's sophomore guard Tana Palmason scored her only points of the game on a putback with 10:14 left, sparking a 17-0 run that pulled the Mustangs to within three points at 81-78 with 6:06 remaining in the game. After back-to-back baskets, The Master's pulled to within a point on a pair of free throws from sophomore guard Annie Gillespie, whose three-pointer with 1:21 to play gave the Mustangs their first lead of the game, part of an 11-0 run that gave them a 97-93 lead with 10 seconds remaining.
The seventh game of the day saw seven Union (Tenn.) players reached double figures in scoring to lead the Lady Bulldogs past University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma, 95-66. Junior center Josephine Owino led the way with a team-high 17 points to go with a game-high 10 rebounds. Union, which is making its NAIA-record 17th consecutive national tournament appearance, was the 54th win in its past 56 games overall, as well as its 14th win in its past 15 national tournament contests.
In the night-cap of day one, third-seeded Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) College picked up its third consecutive first-round victory with a 69-49 win over sixth-seeded McKendree (Ill.) University. Lewis-Clark State led from wire-to-wire, taking a 16-5 lead in the game's first six minutes and out-scoring McKendree 16-6 over the next 13 minutes for a 32-11 lead heading into the final minute of the first half. Senior center Mandy Troutt led all scorers with 19 points, and she also posted a game-high nine rebounds.
A leader in the development of student-athletes, the NAIA is committed to changing the culture of sport through Champions of Character. Founded in 1937, the NAIA continues to be a pioneer in implementing exceptional standards for academics, diversity, and character. Today, the NAIA sponsors 23 collegiate championships in 13 sports for its nearly 300 member institutions throughout the United States and Canada. To learn more about the NAIA visit www.naia.org.