March 16, 2011
JACKSON, Tenn. - In a back-and-forth battle, it was Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) that prevailed in the end to defeat Southern Poly (Ga.), 87-79, in first-round action of the 2011 NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship Wednesday in Oman Arena. The Tigers (27-6) move into the second round and will play the winner of Union (Tenn.) and Avila (Mo.) Friday at 6:15 p.m. CDT.
The loss drops the Hornets' record to 29-5 and brings their season to a close. Southern Poly was playing in its second National Championship in as many seasons.
Olivet Nazarene took a 35-28 lead into the locker room at halftime after five lead changes and five ties. Both squads held similar first-half marks in all offensive aspects. Danielle Tolbert of Olivet Nazarene led all-scorers with nine points, while six Hornets had tallied six points in the opening stanza.
The Tigers came out of the break and pushed their to as many as 11 points on two occasions, only to see Southern Poly answer back with rallies of its own. The Hornets made it a one-possession contest seven times, but could not get the critical bucket when they needed it. Olivet Nazarene's clutch free-throwing shooting in the closing minutes secured the win.
The NAIA's leading offense received contributions from 13 of the 15 players that saw time. Tolbert was the Tigers' top scorer, connecting on eight of her 15 looks from the floor for 17 points. Three others finished with double figures: Simone Coburn (13), Holly Schacht (11) and Miranda Geever (10).
Southern Poly received double-double performances in a farewell game for three seniors. Crystal Davis poured in a game-high 18 points and 14 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. Marisa Stotler posted 17 points and snagged 10 boards and Aurielle Morgan went for 14 points and had a dozen rebounds. Morgan also got six rebounds on the offensive end. Junior Winnie Markey added 16 points of her own in the loss. -Contact: Amanda Dahl, NAIA Manager of Sports Information & Media Services, firstname.lastname@example.org