Lubbock Christian came away with a 76-64 victory over Columbia (Mo.) in the first round of the 2011 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship Thursday in Oman Arena. The win lifts Lubbock Christian (22-9) into Friday’s second round for a date with Bethel (Tenn.) at 12:30 p.m. CDT.

Columbia’s season comes to a close with a final mark of 28-6 after advancing to its eighth National Championship.

The Lady Chaps pushed their lead to as many as 16 points in the opening half despite having a lower field goal percentage (.333) than Columbia (.440). Holding the Cougars back were their 13 turnovers and the hot shooting of Lubbock Christian’s Emily Atkins. The freshman guard went for 16 points in the half as the Lady Chaps led 41-33.

The Lady Cougars cut lead the cut to six points early in the second stanza, only to see Lubbock Christian push back and cushion its lead. Atkins netted 11 more points to finish as the game’s leading scorer with 27. The Lady Chaps overcame 12 blocks from Columbia’s defense to shoot 36 percent from the field.

Atkins knocked down eight of her 11 looks at the bucket and was 10-of-11 from the free-throw line. Courtney Wilson put forth an 18-point effort in the win. The Lady Chaps shot 36 percent from the floor and 75 percent from the charity stripe. On the defensive end, they forced Columbia into 21 turnovers.

A trio of Lady Cougars posted double figures with Ashley Fisher and Denise Rosario logging 14 points. Rosario was the game’s leading rebounder with nine boards, followed by Amanda Phillips with eight, seven of which were on the offensive glass. Phillips also turned in 11 points in the loss.

Jana Roney single-handedly carried Bethel (Tenn.) past Evangel (Mo.), scoring 24 points in the Lady Wildcats’ 47-38 win in the first round of the 2011 NAIA Division I Women’s Basketball National Championship Thursday in Oman Arena. They advance into the second round and will face Lubbock Christian (Texas) Friday at 12:30 p.m.

With the win, Bethel improves to 27-6, while Evangel’s season comes to a close at 21-9.

The combined score of 85 points tied the National Championship record that was set in 1992. Brescia (Ky.) defeated Westmont (Calif.) 43-42, combining for 85 total points, to set the mark. Evangel was one point shy of tying Nazareth’s (N.Y.) 1983 record for fewest points in a half, scoring 11 in the opening stanza. The record for fewest points in a game by a team is held by Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.), who was limited to 31 against Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) in 1998.

The first half saw the two squads combine for 9-of-49 shooting and just 1-of-22 from the 3-point line. Ball security was a factor for both teams with Bethel turning it over 10 times and Evangel giving it up 14 times. After 20 minutes in the book, Bethel led 15-11, with Roney scoring nine points.

It was a different story in the second half as both teams were able to establish an offensive rhythm. The Lady Wildcats built a 12-point lead, 42-30, with 2:38 remaining in the contest. Evangel trimmed it down to 43-38, but only 31 seconds were left and Bethel converted all four free throw attempts to scrape out the win.

Roney had 24 points, hitting 9-of-17 tries from the field and a pair of 3-pointers. Teena Carter snagged 10 rebounds and Molly Wallsmith had five assists. Bethel finished shooting 29 percent from the floor.

The lone Crusader in double-figure scoring was Kara Blakenship with 10 points. Leading Evangel’s rebounding efforts was KJ Waltrip with 10.

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