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Houston Baptist falls to No. 1 Oklahoma City in NAIA Final Four
Monday, Mar 22, 2004
By Staff    


JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)--No. 5 ranked Houston Baptist University had its championship run ended March 22, falling to No. 1 ranked Oklahoma City University 81-69 in the semifinals of the NAIA National Tournament at the Oman Arena. The loss ends a thrilling run for the Huskies, who tied the single-season record for wins.

Houston Baptist fell behind early, as Kesha Watson's three-pointer gave the Stars a 6-2 lead. Seconds later she would hit on a drive to the basket to give OCU a 10-5 lead, and force HBU into a timeout.

The Huskies came out of the timeout fired up. Houston Baptist would outscore Oklahoma City 13-2 over the next four minutes, a run capped by a free-throw and three-pointer by Cari Scaff.

HBU continued to lead, and a Sherill Hadrick putback put HBU up 24-18 with 7:52 to go in the half. The spurt continued, as Marsha Forbes came into the game and provided a quick spark, scoring five points, and Jere' Adams finished it off with a turn-around jumper to give HBU its largest lead of the half, 29-18 with 6:46 to go in the first frame.

The Stars came roaring back, hitting three straight from long range, two by Detra Ashley. Watson hit one from deep and her jumper cut the lead to one, 31-30, ending a 12-2 burst for the top-ranked team in the country.

Houston Baptist didn't let the rally deter its efforts. Hadrick hit her second long-ball of the half to give the Huskies their six-point lead back, but OCU would score the final five points of the half and close the gap to just one, 38-37 at the break.

Neither team shot well in the first half, leading to an abundance of rebounds. OCU held a 30-25 lead on the glass at the half to offset a cold effort from the floor, as the Stars hit just 37.5 percent of its shots. HBU countered with just 38 percent shooting.

Oklahoma City came out with the look of a No. 1 ranked team to start the second frame. The Stars would get defensive, and held Houston Baptist to just five points over the first five minutes of the half. In the meantime, Sadio Sangare scored three times in a 12-2 run, and OCU had taken a 49-40 lead.

Natasha Avey temporarily stopped the run with a three-ball, but Sarah Kincannon would answer with a short jumper to push the lead back to eight with 14:41 to play. The lead reached double figures for the Stars for the first time as Sangare connected again at the 13:32 mark.

The Huskies would not go away however, as Jere' Adams hit two free throws and Griffin Colvert stuck one from deep to cut the OCU lead in half, 53-48 with 12:29 in the half.

The two teams would go scoreless for the next two minutes until Watson connected from deep to push the lead to eight at the 10:20 mark. HBU would cut the lead to seven once more on a score by Avey with 7:53 to go, but it would be as close as the Huskies would get the rest of the way, as Oklahoma City pulled away down the stretch.

HBU finished the game shooting just 37 percent from the floor and 46 percent from the line. After holding OCU to just 38 percent shooting in the first half, the Huskies were blistered in the second frame, as the Stars connected on 50 percent of its shots.

Oklahoma City won the battle of the boards 53-46, and forced 20 HBU turnovers.

HBU was just 8-31 from long range in the game.

Elinor Smith had 17 points and 17 rebounds in her final game as a Husky. Jere' Adams finished with 15 points, while Natasha Avey had 12 points off the bench.
Sherill Hadrick had eight points and 10 boards, while Cari Scaff had seven points, five caroms and five assists. Griffin Colvert added five points and five rebounds in her final game in an HBU uniform.

Kesha Watson led all players with 26 points, and added 12 boards and six assists. Sadio Sangere had 19 points and eight rebounds, while Detra Ashley added 17 points and 12 rebounds. Sarah Kincannon rounded out the quartet of double-figure scorers for OCU with 11.

HBU ends its season at 33-5, tying the school record for wins in a single season. The Huskies have won 33 games in each of the last three years.
Oklahoma City won its 24th consecutive game to improve to 38-1 overall.
--30--

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