Baptist schools win both NAIA championships for first time
JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)--This year's NAIA Division I national championship tournaments saw several firsts. For the first time ever, Union University's Lady Bulldogs won the national championship. The men's basketball team of Georgetown College claimed its first national championship. Thus, for the first time, Southern Baptist schools won both the men's and women's NAIA Division I national championships.
Union finished its season with a 35-3 record; Georgetown was 36-3.
Union University, the tournament's No. 1-seeded team, toppled four-time defending national champion Southern Nazarene University, 73-70, to win the 18th Annual NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship, held at Oman Arena in Jackson, Tenn., March 18-24.
The Lady Bulldogs accomplished the feat in their ninth trip to the national event and with a roster that featured only freshmen and sophomore players. Union avenged a defeat to Southern Nazarene in last year's championship game and a loss at Southern Nazarene earlier this season.
This was the third time that Lady Bulldog coach David Blackstock has led Union to the championship game. Blackstock, 478-84 in 16 seasons with the Lady Bulldogs, has the best winning percentage of any active NAIA coach (.850). In addition to the team championship, Blackstock was rewarded with his first-ever national coach of the year award. Lady Bulldog Rose Agnoung was named the most valuable player of this year's tournament.
Blackstock said he'd take some time to enjoy the victory. "We're looking forward to next year, but right now we're basking in the sunlight of the national championship. It was such a great year," Blackstock said.
Union's first national champions are one step closer to moving into a new athletic/convocation center, thanks to a $3.1 million gift from Benny and Norma Fesmire of Jackson. The gift is the largest in Union's history. The center will provide a larger gymnasium and home court for the Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs.
The Georgetown College men's basketball team, meanwhile, won the NAIA Division I Basketball National Championship, held at the Mabee Center in Tulsa, Okla., March 17-23.
Georgetown came from behind to beat Southern Nazarene 83-69. The fourth-seeded Tigers came back from a 13-point deficit to defeat the No. 14-seeded Redskins.
The Tigers broke a tie midway through the second half and Southern Nazarene never caught up. The tournament's most valuable player, Will Carlton, led Georgetown to its victory.
"Southern Baptists can be proud of the outstanding calibre of athletics to be found on their campuses like Georgetown and Union," Union President David S. Dockery said. "They can be even more proud of the commitment to Christian faith and values and academic excellence on which we build."