From OCU Sports Info.
Rich Tortorelli, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – Oklahoma City University reached the NAIA Division I women’s basketball tournament championship game for the 11th time after a 77-57 victory over Westmont (Calif.) on Monday at the Independence Events Center.

Second-ranked Oklahoma City (29-2) will face the winner of the Campbellsville (Ky.)-Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) semifinal 6:30 p.m. CDT Tuesday in the title game, which will be broadcast by ESPN3.

OCU will try for its second consecutive national title, third in four years and eighth overall in NAIA women’s basketball.

Marisha Wallace, a senior from Midwest City, Okla., ramrodded the Stars with 18 points and 14 rebounds in 17 minutes of play. Wallace posted 12 points and 11 rebounds in the second half.

Rateska Brown, a senior from Alvin, S.C., tallied 16 points, while Yvonte Neal, a senior from Spring Valley, Calif., produced 14 points and five rebounds for OCU. Ouleymatou Coulibaly, a senior from Bamako, Mali, West Africa, pitched in 14 points and eight rebounds for the Stars.

OCU owned advantages in rebounding (56-43) and points in the paint (44-8). Oklahoma City coach Latricia Trammell praised the play of her pair of 6-foot-2 inside players Coulibaly and Wallace.

“Our posts really shined,” Trammell said. “They handled the rebounding well.

“They have a sense of urgency. This is a business trip. They know what the outcome of this can be. They have a grit and a toughness.”

Oklahoma City staged an 11-0 onslaught that stretched from late in the first half to early in the second period. Cora Chan of Westmont hit a trey to cut OCU’s lead to 35-28 with 25 seconds to go in the first. Cara Neighbors responded by slashing for a basket plus a free throw to increase OCU’s advantage to 38-28 with nine seconds left.

Brown downed a trey to score the first points of the second half and give the Stars a 41-28 advantage. Coulibaly scored around the basket, then Wallace had a 3-point play to make the OCU lead 46-28 with 18:16 remaining.

Catherine Kruschke of the Stars had a bucket for a 54-44 margin with 11:21 left, but Westmont scored the game’s next six points to cut OCU’s lead to 54-50 at the 9:53 mark. Brown hit a lay-in off Janay Borum’s inbound pass to break the OCU drought and create a 56-50 cushion with 8:45 showing.

Coulibaly restored the Oklahoma City lead to double digits. Coulibaly hit an inside basket off a Brown offensive rebound and pass, then connected on free throws for a 61-50 margin with 7:19 to go.

Borum hit a free throw with 44 seconds left for the final point of the game. Her free throw also gave OCU its largest lead of the game.

The Stars put together a string of seven consecutive points to erase a 14-12 deficit. Borum ignited the run with a layup, while Krushke gave OCU the lead 15-14 on a free throw with 10:20 left in the first half. Brown snatched a steal, then scored in transition. Borum finished the OCU surge with another theft and fastbreak bucket for a 19-14 OCU edge with 9:21 left in the period.

Kristin Karr sank a jumper to slice the Stars’ advantage to 25-22 with 4:55 left in the first. OCU answered as Brown had a layup. Neal downed baskets off Albany Anderson feeds to push the Stars’ lead to 31-22 at the 3:25 mark.

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