BILLINGS – UM-Western’s basketball women made everything look easy Tuesday night.
After grinding through the entire NAIA D1 Women’s Basketball Tournament, championship night looked like a breeze for Bulldogs who put together a near-perfect game en route to a 75-59 win over Oklahoma City University and the program’s first national title.
NAIA DI Women’s Basketball Player of the Year Bri King finished with 37 points on 15-22 shooting, including six 3s. She was also named MVP of this year’s tournament.
UMW dominated offense, defense, rebounding and hustle plays on the way to a 47-29 halftime lead. The smaller Bulldogs outrebounded OKC 35-27 and led by as many as 23 in the fourth quarter.
Montana Western opened hot by burying six three-pointers in the first quarter, including Tori Anderson’s to give UMW its first lead of the game at 7-6 with 6:49 left. She added another for a 13-8 lead and finished with 14 points.
Bri King buried a buzzer-beating three to end the first for a 24-16 lead.
They seemed to ice it with 4:59 left in the third quarter when King came up with a steal, then turned in a dazzling spin-move lay-up for a 56-26 lead.
Defensively, UMW neutralized the Stars’ inside presence of Abby Selzer who only had eight points at half and 10 for the game.
King subbed out with 30.6 seconds left to chants of MVP. Britt Cooper earned the tournament’s hustle award.
Several people inside the arena had mentioned that Montana Western canceled school Tuesday in Dillon allowing fans to attend the championship game. However, the school Chancellor noted in an email from the athletic department that class was not canceled. A bus filled with students did travel to Billings, according to the email.
The lower sections of Rimrock Auto Arena were dominated by red and black as ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ pumped through arena speakers afterward as confetti spilled onto the court.