The Bobcats avenged their loss of two years ago to the Wildcats in the 2007 National Championship game as IWU earned the title to cap off a 38-0 season.
Indiana Wesleyan (24-10) was able to neutralize Ozarks' leading scorer, senior guard Kayli Combs, to just nine points on 3-of-15 shooting. But the Ozarks' second leading scorer in Lindsy Murray, and main post threat, tallied a game-high 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting.
IWU sophomore forward Elaine Hessel was nearly able to match Murray with 23 points as she was 9-of-12 from the floor. Murray and Hessel were the only players to score double figures.
The Indiana Wesleyan defense was able to harass Ozarks much of the game, including the first six minutes as Ozarks was held scoreless. Before the first Ozarks score, a 3-pointer to tie the game with 13:52 left in the half, Ozarks had missed their first five field goals and committed seven turnovers.
Once the Bobcats finally scored they were able to score on four of five possessions in the next 2:19 to capture a 10-7 lead.
The first half featured five ties and five lead changes with no team able to earn a lead greater than four until the very end of the half. The score was tied 23-23 when the Bobcats were able to stretch a lead.
Ozarks (28-5) ended the opening period on a 10-1 run to take the lead and momentum into half. C of O led 33-24 at the break.
Ozarks quickly gained their first double digit lead of the day 23 seconds into the second half. But Indiana Wesleyan responded to close the gap to five points at 35-30 less than two minutes later as three different Wildcats scored.
On different occasions Indiana Wesleyan trimmed the deficit to four points, the latest coming at 39-35 with 11:50 to play.
The Bobcats reeled off six unanswered points to recapture their double figure lead at 45-35. Indiana Wesleyan responded once again with four straight points to bring the game within six as 8:10 remained.
In a second half of runs, Ozarks volleyed with six consecutive points to gain their largest lead of the contestat 51-39 and 5:18 on the clock. Ozarks maintained a 12 point advantage at 54-42 with 3:36 remaining, but Indiana Wesleyan attempted one last comeback.
A basket and a foul for freshman guard Rachel Steinbarger brought the deficit back to single digits. Following a defensive rebound by Steinbarger, Hessel scored in the paint for a 54-47 game. Another IWU defensive stop followed by Hessel hitting on 1-of-2 free throws closed the gap to 54-48 as 1:20 was left on the clock.
Indiana Wesleyan was forced to foul but Ozarks was able to connect on 5-of-6 free throws down the stretch to ice the game and advance to the Elite Eight.
The Wildcats defense kept Indiana Wesleyan close throughout as Ozarks shot 41.7-percent (20 of 48) and 3-of-15 (20.0-percent) from long range. The Bobcats turned the ball over 21 times and the Wildcats had 12 steals.
But Indiana Wesleyan was unable to capitalize on their defensive pressure as IWU was held to 35.2-percent (19 of 54) and hit on just 10-of-17 (58.8-percent) from the charity stripe. Ozarks won the battle on the boards by a 43-30 margin.
Indiana Wesleyan's season comes to a close at 24-10 with the seventh consecutive trip to the NAIA National Championship.
The 2006-07 National Champions are a No. 5-seed in this year's tournament and will square off with No. 4-seed Mount Marty (S.D.) College at 8:30 a.m. CT/9:30 a.m. ET on Thursday, March 12.
Mount Marty is out of Yankton, South Dakota and is currently 24-8 on the season. The Lancers finished 14-4 in the Great Plains Athletic Conference for a third place finish. Mount Marty lost in the GPAC semifinals to unbeaten Morningside (Iowa) College.
Like the Mid-Central College Conference, the GPAC earned four bids to the national tournament. The GPAC has won seven of the last eight national titles and had won six straight before the Wildcats clinched the 2007 championship.
The only common opponent between the schools is Morningside. Indiana Wesleyan lost a 62-54 decision to the No. 1-ranked team while Mount Marty lost 73-50 and 69-62.
The Lancers enter national tournament play winners of 10 of their last 11 contests and are 13-3 since the turn of the calendar year. Six of their eight losses this season have come to teams in the NAIA Division II National Championship while the other two have come against NCAA Division I South Dakota State University and Vanguard (Calif.) University, ranked No. 2 in NAIA Division I.
Mount Marty made a steady climb in the national poll this season. MMC was not ranked in the preseason coaches' poll and did not crack the top-25 until the third poll on January 5. Mount Marty progressed up the rankings until reaching their season high of No. 14 in the final poll on March 4.
Mount Marty boasts four players in double figure scoring this season, led by their backcourt of junior guard Michelle Amundson with 14.8 points and senior guard Katelynn Kunz with 14.2 points. Senior center Amber Marsden adds 13.2 points and sophomore guard Lacey Powell chips in with 11.6 points.
Marsden pulls down a team-best 7.7 rebounds per game and Kunz adds 5.2 caroms. Amundson, in addition to being the Lancers' leading scorer, dishes out 4.2 assist per contest.
No player on Mount Marty is shooting over 50.0-percent from the floor as they shoot 44.3-percent from the field as a team. Despite the lack of a high-percentage shooter, Mount Marty is seventh in NAIA Division II in 3-Point Field Goal Percentage (37.5-percent), 12th in Field Goal Percentage and 24th in Scoring per Game (72.6 points).
tournament will start with the first round games on
Wednesday, March 11 and Thursday, March 12 and will
end with the championship game on Tuesday, March 17
at 7 p.m.
JumpTV Inc. is the exclusive provider of live video and audio-streaming at the NAIA National Championship. JumpTV will stream the first 30 games of the championships. These events can be viewed by going to www.watchnaia.com. The National Championship Game will air live nationwide on CBS College Sports.
In 2008 Northwestern (Iowa) used a strong second half to earn a hard fought 82-75 victory over the College of the Ozarks (Mo.) to capture its second title.
Three schools have captured back-to-back titles in Division II history. Western Oregon (1995 and 1996), Hastings (Neb.) (2002 and 2003) and Morningside (Iowa) (2004 and 2005) all defended their title after winning their first championship.
has captured the most championships with three, while
Morningside, Northern State (S.D.), Northwestern
(Iowa) and Western Oregon all won two titles.
The schools from Great Plains Athletic Conference have captured seven of the last eight national championships. Indiana Wesleyan won the title in 2007 breaking the streak of six straight by GPAC schools.