BILLINGS, Mont. – (Box Score) Daniela Wallen scored 25 points and Daniela Galindo added 19 to lead Oklahoma City to their ninth national championship, as the Stars downed Lewis Clark State (Idaho), 73-66, in the championship game of the 2017 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by Wells Fargo, at the Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.
With the win, Oklahoma City ends the year with a 34-6 and expands in record at the national championship to an NAIA record 71-14. Additionally, the Stars improve to 9-3 all-time in the title game.
“To see their faces is what’s so special about this,” said Oklahoma City Head Coach Bo Overton. “You know how hard they work all year and how hard they work their whole career for a game like this and then for it to happen is really special.”
Oklahoma City used a series of small runs, the largest being a 7-0, to gradually separate themselves from Lewis-Clark in the first half. OCU’s Wallen scored 14 points and Galindo scored 11 in the first half, while the Warriors’ leading scorer Caelyn Orlandi scored only five points and six assists. The senior shot only 2-of-9 from the field, including an icy cold 1-of-6 from the 3-point land.
LCSC had a three and one point early in the first quarter, but it would be their only lead of the game. The Stars built a 10-point lead in the second quarter and led 38-29 at the half.
The Warriors got off to a hot start to begin the third quarter when Orlandi hit a 3-pointer. LCSC was able to chip away at the Stars lead and got it down to three on a free throw by Brittney Tacket at the 6:31. However, the Warriors were unable to take advantage of opportunities in the form of OCU turnovers.
Early in the fourth, the Stars had held off charges from LCSC and built their lead back to eight. At the 2:13 mark of the fourth with the Warriors trailing 66-63 from a layup from Jossilyn Blackman, Brittney Tackett was fouled on the other end. She had a chance to cut the lead to one when she stepped to the free throw line, but she missed both free throws. Then OCU went on a 6-0 run and sealed their ninth championship in program history.
Wallen, the nation’s leading scorer finished with 25 points, Galindo with 19 points and Mariana Duran added 15 points. The Stars shot 52 percent from the field compared to 38 percent for Lewis-Clark State.
“I think all season long Wallen and Galindo got their numbers,” said Overton. “What really made us a good team is when people loaded where they were, we had other people coming up to make plays. Today, I thought Janae Haag, defensively had a great game. Her size and her rebounding. It’s just that pieces just fit. Whenever it was someone’s turn they just stepped up and were awesome.”
Orlandi finished with 15 points and career tying best 13 assists. Her 13 assists gave her 46 total dimes for the tournament, which is a new championship record. The previous mark of 41 assists was set by Eleshia Ballard of Southern Nazarene (Okla.) in 1989.
Additionally, Lauren Johnson had 13 points for the Warriors. LCSC scored only 10 points in the paint compared to 24 points for the Stars.
With the loss, Lewis-Clark State falls to 35-2 on the season and 25-20 all-time at the national championship. The Warriors were appearing in the title game for the first time in program history.
“Everywhere we went there were people coming up to us wanting picture, wanting things signed, telling us they were at the game and that they were going to the next game,” added Overton. “It just really made our players welcome and made them feel good. What a great experience for them. I thought the city of Billings, the state of Montana, the people who ran this, and just everyone involved did a great job.”
2017 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Most Outstanding Player – Daniela Wallen, Oklahoma City
2017 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Hustle Award – Kelsey Scherder, William Woods (Mo.)
2017 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball Coach of Year – Bo Overton, Oklahoma City
2017 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball All-Championship Team
Emily Fox, Campbellsville (Ky.)
Caelyn Orlandi, Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)
Daniela Galindo, Oklahoma City
Claire Lamunu, Vanguard (Calif.)
Kayla Sato, Westmont (Calif.)
Madison Stewart, Campbellsville (Ky.)
Kim Mallory, Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.)
Kayla Styles, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
Natalee Faupel, Montana State-Northern
Aniese Palmore, Montana Western