Lightning Strikes at Oman Arena, SNU Women’s Basketball Blisters Union 82-66

(JACKSON,TN)---Saturday night’s NAIA National Quarterfinal match up between #1 seeded Southern Nazarene and #2 seeded Union, Tennessee was full of storylines and filled with electricity from the opening tip until the conclusion of the game.

Southern Nazarene and Union is arguably one of the best rivalries in the country with the two schools having met five times previously in the NAIA National Tournament. SNU owned a 3-2 advantage in National Tournament play going into Saturday night’s game. SNU defeated Union for the 1997 National Title, and Union returned the favor in 1998 by knocking off SNU 73-70 for the 1998 National Championship. Saturday night’s game was billed as the game of the tournament thus far but never materialized as the Crimson Storm rolled all evening long thanks to a “thunderous” performance.

With 10:47 to play in the first half and SNU leading 18-16, lightning struck the Oman Arena and knocked out the power. SNU was in the midst of an 8-0 run at the time and used the momentum of the storm outside of Oman Arena to crush Union in front of their hometown fans, 82-66, to advance to Monday night’s NAIA National Semifinal against Brescia, Kentucky.

It was a dominant performance for the Crimson Storm most of the evening, except for the first six minutes of play. SNU jumped out to a 4-0 lead but Union would score 12 points straight to take a 12-4 lead and have the home town fans rocking in Oman Arena. SNU would weather the storm and respond with a 5-0 run to cut the Lady Bulldogs lead to 12-9 with 14:22 to play in the first half.

Union would again go on a run, this time scoring four straight to take a 16-9 lead with 13:37 to play in the first. At the 13:37 mark the Storm would begin brewing in and out of Oman Arena. SNU would cut the Union lead to 16-10 with a made free throw from Khady Ngom. SNU’s defense would then turn up the heat, forcing four straight turnovers and converting on three straight field goals by Katie Korfe, to tie the game at 16-16. Khady Ngom would then give SNU an 18-16 lead with 10:49 to play in the first half. Two seconds later a loud clap of thunder would sound and lightning would take out the lights in the Oman Arena. While the stoppage of play could have been a disadvantage for SNU the Crimson Storm instead fed off of the arrival of the storm outside and used that momentum to intensify their comeback.

After a ten minute delay, SNU would make the storm outside look like a slow drizzle as the Crimson Storm blitzed the Lady Bulldogs the remainder of the first half. SNU would outscore Union 26-11 in the final 10:47 of the second half to take a convincing 44-27 halftime lead.

SNU would maintain their lead throughout the second half, leading by as many as 25 points (70-45) with 9:20 to play in the game. SNU would go on to win 82-66 and advance to the Final Four.

Southern Nazarene’s bench would again prove to be dominant on Saturday night, contributing 33 points, compared to Union’s six points from the bench. The Crimson Storm shot 61.0% from the floor, compared to 39.1% by the Lady Bulldogs.

SNU was led in scoring by Khady Ngom with 21 points, followed by Ndeye Ndiaye and Bandegne Diop with 15 points each. Katie Korfe added 13 points each and Katie Snodgrass added 12 points in the victory.

Southern Nazarene’s Ndeye Ndiaye, after collecting seven rebounds in this game, moves from #11 to #8 on the NAIA All-Time Rebounding Leaders. Ndiaye only needs four rebounds to move the #7 on the list, passing Cindi Patton of Arkansas Tech, who played from 1987 to 1989.

The Lady Bulldogs of Union were led in scoring by Stephanie Clark with 22 points. Ginger Bryant followed with 14 points and Laura Mitchell contributed 12 points. The Lady Bulldogs end the season with a 32-5 record in their fifteenth national tournament appearance.

The defending national champions and #1 seed Southern Nazarene University (34-3) advances into the 8:00 p.m. semifinals on Monday, March 22nd. The Crimson Storm will play the #2 seeded Lady Bearcats of Brescia University (Ky.) who upset the #1 seed Vanguard University by a final score of 65-61 to advance to the national semifinals for the first time.

For box score information from tonight's game, click here.

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