Storm Women Claim 2003 NAIA National Championship

The Crimson Storm women's basketball team has much to celebrate today after an exciting win over OCU in the final game of the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship last night in Jackson, Tennessee. SNU students, faculty and staff are invited to join in the celebration tonight, March 26, at 7:00pm in the Sawyer Center as the women return home with their sixth national title.

As reported by Roger Redmon, NAIA Media Operations
March 25, 2003

JACKSON, Tenn. - Freshman forward Khady Ngom hit a driving jumper in the lane with nine seconds remaining to lift Southern Nazarene University (Oklahoma) to the NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship with a 71-70 victory over Oklahoma City University Tuesday night at Oman Arena.

Oklahoma City (33-1), the four-time defending national champion, had one last chance to go for the win but turned the ball over without getting a shot off with less than five seconds remaining. Southern Nazarene senior guard Sasha Seriogina, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, grabbed the loose ball and ran out the clock as the Crimson Storm (29-9) finished off their record sixth national championship.

Southern Nazarene moved one national title ahead of Oklahoma City and Southwestern Oklahoma, which have both won five championships. Oklahoma City was also denied what would have been a record with five consecutive NAIA Division I national championships.

Ngom’s game-winning heroics provided Southern Nazarene -- which began the tournament as the No. 2-seed in the tournament’s third quarter -- with just its third lead of the night. The Crimson Storm trailed by as many as 13 points (56-43) with 13 minutes to go before rallying late. Oklahoma City still led 67-60 with 4:39 to play before a 7-0 Southern Nazarene run tied the game (67-67) with 42 seconds left. After Oklahoma City junior guard Kesha Watson hit one of two free throws to put the Stars in front (68-67) at the 39-second mark, Ngom answered by hitting a pair of free tosses to give the Crimson Storm a 69-68 lead. Oklahoma City wasted no time in retaking the lead (70-69) as senior forward Veronique Alesse scored inside with 15 seconds left. That set the stage for Ngom’s decisive play at the end.

Seriogina paced Southern Nazarene with 19 points, followed by junior center Ndeye Ndiaye with 11 points and a team-high seven boards. Ngom finished with ten points and four rebounds.

Watson’s 25 points and seven rebounds led the way for Oklahoma City. Junior guard Detra Ashley added 14, while junior guard Sarah Kincannon hit 3-of-6 three-pointers and finished with 13 points.

By Jerry Shottenkirk
As published in the Daily Oklahoman, March 26, 2003

JACKSON, Tenn. - The rain came down in sheets outside Oman Arena on Tuesday, but inside there was a storm of remarkable severity.

The Crimson Storm of Southern Nazarene made up a 13-point deficit in the last 13 minutes and stunned rival Oklahoma City University 71-70 for the NAIA Women's National Basketball Championship before a crowd of 3,000.

SNU's Khady Ngom scored four points in the final :28, including a layup with 12 seconds left to give her team only its second lead of the night.

OCU had a final chance and called time out with five seconds on the board but turned it over as the buzzer sounded.

The SNU win was multi- laced. The title gave the Storm an all-time record sixth championship and kept OCU from a record fifth straight and sixth overall. It also kept the Stars from a season of perfection.

For the first time since 1997, Southern Nazarene is alone at the top.

Ngom made the very best of her 13 minutes, and an old dream was realized.

"I used to talk with my friends and say, 'hey, I'm going to win the national championship for this team someday,' " she said. "They didn't believe me. I was just kidding around. I'm glad I got the chance and it worked out the way it did."

Ngom, a redshirt freshman from Dakar, Senegal, was all business, especially in the last 6:29. She powered past a strong OCU defense for two layups and was perfect in four free-throw attempts in the waning moments. She finished with 10 points.

Ndom's athletic ability has never been questioned, SNU coach Craig Wiginton said.

"She's had an up-and-down year, and tonight, I'm tickled for her," he said.

Wiginton, who led SNU to the title six years ago, said coaches sometimes get too much credit in championship situations.

"We won this not because of me, but because Khady Ngom, Heather McNutt and Julie Fullbright were determined and made the huge shots down the stretch."

Sasha Seriogina didn't figure in the closing minutes, but she kept her team from being blown out early. She scored 14 of her team-high 19 points in the first half and was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

McNutt, who had seen few minutes during the tournament due to strep throat, played half the game and scored four points. But two of those came with :42 left and tied the game at 67. She was later given the tournament's Hustle Award.

OCU was on the verge of a laugher early in the second half. After SNU took a 43-41 lead with 17:22 left, Kesha Watson led a 15-0 run and the Stars were up 56:43 with 12:59 left.

But OCU made only two field goals the rest of the way, and SNU sliced away at the lead.

After McNutt's layup, Watson put OCU up 68-67 with :41 left.

Ngom was fouled and made both free throws at the :28 mark to give SNU a 69-68 lead.

The Stars weren't done. Veronique Alesse penetrated for a close-in field goal, and OCU was up 70-69. Then came Ngom's heroics.

OCU beat SNU three times this season -- twice during the regular season and later for the conference tournament title.

OCU coach Janell Jones, who was bidding for her third straight title, said it was an excruciating finish.

"We didn't score for seven possessions, and we knew all along SNU would fight back," Jones said. "They won because of rebounding, especially on the offensive end."

SNU had 27 offensive boards and outrebounded OCU 41-30.

"My hat's off to SNU," she said. "This is really painful for us right now, but maybe we'll be able to reflect on what a great season it was for us."

OCU finished at 33-1, and SNU ended at 29-9.

Watson, who on Tuesday was named NAIA Division I Player of the Year, scored 25 points.

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