LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, Ga. - The King College women's basketball team made it back-to-back NCCAA Division I Mid-East Region championships thanks to an 84-78 victory over Oakland City (Ind.) University Saturday in which six Lady Tornado players scored in double-digits. With the win the Lady Tornado will make a return trip to the NCCAA National Tournament.
King, the event's No. 1 seed, will take a 13-16 record to the nationals as the region champion. At last year's national tournament King finished sixth. The national bracket will be finalized and announced Monday. The eight-team national tournament will be at Grace (Ind.) College Thursday to Saturday.
Ashley Deans (Greeneville, Tenn.) posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The 10 rebounds are the second most in a game for the senior this season in her second double-double of 2010-11.
Derika Mooney (Athens, Tenn.) paced King with 16 points. Brooke Johnson (Roan Mountain, Tenn.) used a 10-for-10 effort at the free throw line to finish with 14 points and six rebounds. Jessica Tharpe (Sevierville, Tenn.) and Kalen Collins (Wise, Va.) both poured in a dozen points. Brianna Kelley (Greeneville, Tenn.) added 10 bench points.
Oakland City's Samantha Stahl led all scorers with 25. Kayla Skaggs finished with 12 points while Jessie Oxley and Jane Barclay posted totals of 11 and 10 points, respectively.
King saw Oakland City score the first four points of the game, but King tied things up at four before a 10-0 Oakland City spurt. Eventually the Lady Tornado saw the margin grow to 11, 19-8, but two free throws by Deans tied the game at 21 and put King in front 22-21 with 6:01 on the clock. She followed that up with a three pointer after an offensive rebound.
Oakland City regained the lead and made the score 37-32 with 2:12 left in the first half. The defending champion Lady Tornado fought back to make the halftime score tied at 38 with two of Johnson's free throws.
In all the first half had four ties and two lead changes.
Oakland City came out firing in the final half with the national bid on the line. A three pointer by Oxley put Oakland City in front 54-47 5:14 into the second half.
King clawed back to get within one, 54-53, after a Tharpe jumper, but Oakland City built back a five-point lead after scoring the next four points.
A Deans layup followed by a three by Mooney tied things at 58 and King eventually grabbed a 61-60 lead thanks to a Mooney free throw with 7:26 on the clock. Oakland City scored the next four points only to see four straight by Collins.
Down 67-66 with 4:13 to go Mooney put King up with her layup and the Lady Tornado went on a 9-1 run in the next 2:13 to seize momentum.
The free throw line became King's friend down the stretch as the Lady Tornado made the final nine free throws in the closing 58 seconds.
Both teams made 27 field goals and Oakland City had three more three pointers, 8-5. The difference turned out to be the free throw line as King finished 25-for-29 which included a 19-for-23 effort in the second half. Oakland City was 16-for-19 at the line.
King won the rebound battle 42-33 and forced 18 turnovers.
Oakland City's season comes to an end at 15-14 as the No. 3 seed for the region tournament.