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.
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.