BILLINGS – Chalk another one up for the veterans.
The Oklahoma City Stars won their ninth NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship Tuesday with a 73-66 win over the Lewis-Clark State Warriors at Rimrock Auto Arena.
Daniela Wallen led the Stars with 25 points and nine rebounds. She was 9 of 19 from the field, and 2 of 2 from 3-point range, with both makes coming at the shot clock buzzer. Wallen was named the tournament MVP.
Daniela Galindo added 19 points for Oklahoma City, while Mariana Duran chipped in 15 and seven assists in the Stars’ fourth title-game win in the past six years.
All-American point guard Caelyn Orlandi led the Warriors with 15 points and 13 assists but shot just 5 of 20 from the field, including 3 of 13 from 3-point range. The Warriors, who were making their first-ever appearance in the NAIA national championship game, shot just 11 of 34 on 3s in the game.
After a back-and-forth opening eight minutes, Oklahoma City took control late in the first quarter. Galindo hit three 3-pointers in the first half, while Wallen added 14 points and six rebounds.
Wallen collected her own miss and hit a putback with 5:15 to play in the second quarter to put the Stars up 10. Oklahoma City exploited a clear height advantage to win the rebounding battle 20-13 in the first 20 minutes.
The Stars outscored LC State 24-10 in the paint as the Warriors continued to bomb away from outside.
It worked for Lauren Johnson early, as she kept the Warriors in it with three treys in the opening quarter, but her teammates combined to shoot just 8 of 26 the rest of the half.
The third quarter was a different story. LC State was 8 of 15 from the field and 5 of 7 from the free throw line, the Warriors’ first foul shots of the game. They got as close as three after a Brittany Tackett three-point play, but Oklahoma City stretched the lead back to 59-53 by the start of the fourth.
Both teams tightened up in the final frame before a frenetic final three minutes. LC State once again cut the deficit to three at 66-63 and had a chance to make it a one-point game, but Tackett missed two free throws, and Wallen countered on the other end with a baseline jumper at the shot clock buzzer to extend the lead.
Oklahoma City shot 27 of 52 overall (51.9 percent) while holding LC State to 23 of 61 (37.7 percent).