Union Defeats Shawnee State; will Play in Final
Union (Tenn.) defeated Shawnee State (Ohio) 58-40 in the semifinals of the 2011 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship Monday in Oman Arena. The two-time defending national champs push their record to 35-1 and will take on Azusa Pacific (Calif.) Tuesday at 7 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s title game. The national championship rematch between the Lady Bulldogs and Azusa Pacific will be the fourth time in the event’s history that teams have collided in the final contest in back-to-back years. Union has previously taken on the same opponent while defending its title, playing Southern Nazarene (Okla.) in 1997 and 1998. The win is the 14th-consecutive in National Championship play for the Lady Bulldogs dating back to their first-round game in 2009. They will be vying to become the third team to three-peat in the event’s 31-year history, potentially joining elite company in Southern Nazarene (Okla.) and Oklahoma City. Union has advanced to the title game seven times with a mark of 5-2 and is tied with Oklahoma City with five national titles. Shawnee State’s season comes to a close with a record of 27-10. The Bears follow up on last year’s runner-up finish at the State Farm-NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship with a semifinal appearance in their inaugural season as a Division I program. Union jumped out to a 6-0 lead on three-straight buckets by Zienab Chan to start the game. The Lady Bulldogs pushed the score with six unanswered for its largest lead of the half at 27-14 with 3:52 remaining. Alannah Sheets cut the lead to seven with 53 seconds remaining, 27-20, after sinking a pair of free throws for Shawnee State. Hudson’s dish to Mildred Olumasi for the basket gave Union a nine-point advantage heading into the break, 29-20. Chan led all scorers at halftime with 12 points in 10 minutes of action. The Lady Bulldogs connected on 37 percent of their looks from the floor, while Shawnee State was held to just 17 percent, hitting just 4-of-23 shot attempts. Union dominated the play down low, scoring 16 points in the paint and had 10 second-chance buckets. Jill Cropper had seven points for the Bears. In the second half, it was the Chan show. The senior was nearly unstoppable, hitting 9-of-10 field goal attempts, for 20 points. Shawnee State was only able to get within nine points, 35-26, as Sheets capitalized on a turnover by Hudson with 3:10 off the clock. The largest margin came at 2:47 with Lavanda Ross connecting on the back end of a trip to the free-throw line. Tabatha McKinney responded by scoring on a second-chance shot, but Union pushed it to 16 again with a bucked from Chan on the ensuing possession. Chan finished with a career-high 32 points. It was the third game of her senior campaign in which she scored 30-or more points. She also pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds to log her 16th double-double of the season and 43rd of her career. Hudson and Lavanda Ross each chipped in nine points. The Lady Bulldogs shot 42 percent from the field and 60 percent from the charity stripe. They were limited to just 15 percent from the 3-point line, hitting just two of their 13 tries.