From OCU Sports Information
Rich Torterelli, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Oklahoma City University nudged past Montana State-Northern 58-55 on Friday in the NAIA Division I women’s basketball tournament at the Frankfort Convention Center.
Yvonte Neal, a junior from Spring Valley, Calif., gave the Stars a 54-53 lead on a 3-pointer with 56 seconds left, then put OCU up 56-55 on free throws with 24 seconds to go. The fifth-ranked Stars (24-4) play fourth-ranked Campbellsville (Ky.) in the NAIA Tournament quarterfinals at 3 p.m. CDT Saturday.
OCU moved into a tie for second place with Southern Nazarene on the NAIA Tournament wins list at 58. No. 21-ranked Montana State-Northern ended its season at 22-10.
Autumn Huffman, a senior from Midwest City, Okla., snagged 15 points, seven rebounds and three steals for the Stars. Ouleymatou Coulibaly, a junior from Bamako, Mali, West Africa, notched her eighth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds, while Neal supplied OCU with 13 points, five rebounds and two assists. Coulibaly pulled in nine offensive rebounds.
The Stars survived shooting 35.7 percent from field. MSU-Northern hit 32.6 percent from the floor. OCU made 11 thefts while advancing to its sixth consecutive NAIA Tournament Elite Eight.
“We played until the end with a sense of urgency,” OCU coach Latricia Trammell said. “I thought our post players did a good job on defense slowing down their post players. We will have to play our best tomorrow against a very good team. We are very capable, but all of our cylinders need to be moving.”
Kassie Barta nailed a trey to give MSU-Northern a 45-38 advantage with 8:38 to go in the game. Barta’s 3 ended up being her team’s final basket of the game.
Cara Pugh sank a 3-pointer to trigger an 8-0 Stars run. Markeisha Johnson and Huffman cashed in baskets off steals, then Pugh hit a free throw to put OCU up 46-45 with 6:33 remaining.
Natalee Faupel dropped in 10 free throws in the final 5:16 for Montana State-Northern. Faupel’s foul shots with 1:20left gave the Skylights a 53-51 edge.
Neal answered with her 3 at the 56-second mark. Faupel downed a pair of free throws for a 55-54 MSU-Northern lead with 38 seconds showing.
OCU responded as Neal hit free throws for a 56-55 Stars edge at 24 seconds remaining, and Johnson grabbed a steal with 15 seconds left.
Faupel tried a jumper from the baseline that missed the mark with five seconds left. Kayla MacKenzie hauled in the rebound, drew a foul and hit free throws for the final margin.
Faupel led MSU-Northern with 28 points. Six-foot-5 A’Jha Edwards had four points and 15 rebounds for the Skylights before fouling out with 1:41 remaining.