S. Nazarene 80, Southeastern, Okla. 79
JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) _ Becky Cole scored on a backdoor layup with six seconds to play Tuesday night as Southern Nazarene claimed its third straight NAIA Division I national championship with an 80-79 victory over Southeastern Oklahoma.
Southeastern (34-2) had taken a 79-78 lead with 17 seconds to play when tournament MVP Crystal Robinson hit a 3-point shot.
After a timeout, the Lady Redskins (35-2) got the ball in to Andrea Fraley, who spotted Cole on the backdoor cut for the winning basket.
Following a timeout with three seconds remaining, Southeastern was only able to launch a three-quarter-court shot by Robinson that hit the top of the backboard as time expired.
The victory allowed Southern Nazarene to become the first three-time champion in the 15-year history of the tournament. The Lady Redskins defeated Southeastern Oklahoma 78-77 in last year’s title game.
The win allowed Southern Nazarene to complete a Final Four sweep of the only two teams to defeat the Lady Redskins this year. Southern stopped Union, Tenn., in the semifinal round.
Southeastern Oklahoma had come into the tournament as the No. 1 team in NAIA Division I and the top seed.
Southern Nazarene controlled the first half with a balanced attack, taking a 27-15 lead with 8:54 left after a jumper by Andrea Fraley and holding a 38-34 edge at the half.
A 3-point shot by Southeastern’s Yolanda York with 10:17 to play pulled the Lady Savages even at 55, but Cole countered with a layup with 9:45 to play to push Southern Nazarene on top 57-55.
Robinson, who scored a game-high 34 points, gave Southeastern its first lead, 58-57, on a 3-pointer with 9:38 to play.
The teams swapped the lead four times before a 3-pointer by Cole with 38 seconds remaining gave Southern a 78-76 lead.
Julia Yunusova paced five Southern Nazarene players in double figures with 18 points and a team-high 8 rebounds. Astou Ndiaye finished with 15, Fraley had 14, Cole 13 points and five assists and Tiffany Hill 10 points.
Robinson had 10 rebounds to go with her 34 points for Southeastern. Vicky Shved added 16 points to the Lady Savages’ total.