W. Oregon 75, NW Nazarene 67
MONMOUTH, Ore. (AP) _ Sandie Graves scored 27 points to lead Western Oregon to its first NAIA Division II women’s championship in a 75-67 victory Tuesday night over Northwest Nazarene of Idaho.
Western Oregon (23-9) blew the game open in the second half after leading just 32-31 at the break.
The Wolves led by as much as 59-46 with 9:08 remaining.
Northwest Nazarene (23-7) closed to 71-66 when Kari Smith hit two free throws with 2:12 to play. She finished with 15 points and led the rebounding with 11.
``It was like two heavyweights going after it,″ said Western Oregon coach Rusty Rogers. ``Every time we’d get a lead, they would battle back and make it close. Then we’d get another big lead and they just wouldn’t let us get away.″
Donna Knight led Northwest Nazarene with 16 points, and Ellen Duncan added 11.
Shelley Potter added 17 points for Western Oregon.
Graves, who also had 10 rebounds, won the most valuable player award for the tournament.
``Five years ago, I thought that just to get to fifth or sixth in a national tournament would be a dream,″ Rogers said. ``I thought about a national championship, but I never dreamed it would come this quickly.″