Call Oklahoma City University an NAIA champion. And call the Stars a dynasty, too.
Oklahoma City defended its title by defeating Mountain State 75-72 in the championship game of the NAIA Division I Men’s Tournament on Tuesday night in front of 3,876 at Municipal Auditorium.
The seventh-seeded Stars, 31-7, who appeared in their third consecutive championship game, became the first team to win two straight NAIA Division I titles since Life (Ga.) University did it in 1999-2000.
And the Stars have captured a record six championships since leaving NCAA Division I for the NAIA in 1985.
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Oklahoma City’s Big Three of forwards Ollie Bailey and Willie Irick and guard Kameron Gray each scored in double figures as the Stars finished the season with a 15-game winning streak. Irick scored 22 points, Gray 20 and Bailey had 15 points with 16 rebounds.
Mountain State, the 2004 NAIA champion, shot poorly all night and finished 34-3. Center Jason McGriff scored 22 points with 11 rebounds for the Cougars. Guard James Spencer, the NAIA’s leading scorer, managed just 14 points after scoring 20-plus in the first four tournament games.
Oklahoma City trailed 21-19 with 4 minutes to go in the first half when the Stars went on an 11-1 run and ended up leading 29-22 at halftime. Then, the Stars, kick-started with a three-point play by Gray, opened the second half with a 9-2 run and never looked back.
Both teams came out with a case of nerves. Oklahoma City missed its first seven shots from the field and didn’t score until backup guard Richard Jackson made a floater with 15 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first half.
Mountain State wasn’t much more efficient. The Cougars made just two of their first eight shots, and Jackson’s three-pointer gave the Stars a 10-7 lead, their first of the game.