SIOUX CITY, Iowa – () Top-seeded Saint Francis (Ind.) capped a perfect season with a 75-68 win over No. 7 seeded College of the Ozarks (Mo.) in the title game of the 2014 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship, presented by State Farm.
The title is the first-ever for the Cougars, who previously finished runner-up in 1999.
With the win, Saint Francis becomes the first team to go 38-0 en route to the national title since Morningside (Iowa) accomplished the feat in 2009.
Crossroads League Player of the Year Skylarr Shurn, who was named the 2014 National Championship Most Valuable Player following the game, posted her sixth 30-point game of the season with a game-high 30 points on 10-of-23 shooting and a 10-for-13 effort at the free throw line. Shurn tallied 17 of her 33 points in the second half, including game’s final two free throws.
Joining Shurn in double-digits for the Cougars were Jennelle Wilson and Brooke Ridley. Wilson scored 19 points, while Ridley registered her 12th double-double of the season with 13 points and 14 rebounds.
As you expect in the title game, the opening 20 minutes were highly contested with neither team gaining more than a six point advantage. College of the Ozarks took a 10-4 lead on Payton Lakey free throw five minutes into the half. However, the deficit did not discourage the Cougars, who eventually tied the game, 20-20, on back-to-back buckets by Shurn and Ridley.
The Cougars took their first lead since the opening minutes five minutes on a Kalah Baer put back of a Shurn miss, 31-29. The game continued to be tight the remaining three minutes with Saint Francis taking a 37-36 lead into the half.
Both teams shot better than 50 percent in the period, including a 53.8 percent (14-for-26) effort by College of the Ozarks.
Shurn led all scorers in the period with 16 points.
Following a combined 0-for-8 start from the field by both teams to open the second half, Shurn singlehandedly led a 7-0 run to give Saint Francis a 44-36 lead with 16 minutes left in the game.
College of the Ozarks brought the Cougars’ lead back to three, 55-52, on a basket by Maggie McMenamy, however Saint Francis answered once again with a 3-pointer by Emily Montgomery to make it 58-52 with under eight minutes to play. Additionally, the trey sparked a 10-3 run by Saint Francis, which gave the Cougars the momentum and a 65-53 lead with under three minutes remaining
The defense for Saint Francis shined during the stretch, holding College of Ozarks without a field goal for more than six minutes.
Three-straight 3-pointers by the Bobcats made it a 73-68 game with 11 seconds left, however College of the Ozarks was unable to come any closer.
College of the Ozarks, who falls to 0-5 all-time in the nation championship final, was led in scoring by freshman Alice Heinzler’s 22 points. She ended the game 8-for-20 from the field, including a 4-for-11 effort from 3-point range. Emily Walker also scored in double-digits with 11 points.
The Bobcats ended the night shooting 40.7 percent (24-for-59) from the field.
College of the Ozarks ends the season with a 27-10 record.
2014 NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball National Championship All-Tournament Team
Michelle Piepenburg, Cardinal Stritch (Wis.)
Tiesha Stokes, Davenport (Mich.)
Brooke Ridley, Saint Francis (Ind.)
Alice Heinzler, College of the Ozarks (Mo.)
Skylarr Shurn, Saint Francis (Ind.)
Alli Engbertson, Northwestern (Iowa)
Jamie Van Kirk, Hastings (Neb.)
Ashlynn Muhl, Morningside (Iowa)
Emily Walker, College of the Ozarks (Mo.)
Jenelle Wilson, Saint Francis (Ind.)
Championship Most Valuable Player
Skylarr Shurn, Saint Francis (Ind.)
NAIA Hustle Award
Kayla Kepler, College of the Ozarks (Mo.)
Phyllis Holmes Coach of the Year
Gary Andrews, Saint Francis (Ind.)