News: W. Basketball NCCAA Champions

CCU Women's Basketball Team Crowned National Champions

It was an uphill battle that started with last Sunday's 20-hour bus trip to Winona Lake, Indiana. Since then, Colorado Christian Women's Basketball looked past their number eight seed - and fought past teams that others might have thought they had no chance beating. The number one seed -- beat them 67-56. Number five (the home team) -- cruised to a 66-53 win. Finally, Saturday brought a match-up against second-seeded Cedarville in the Championship game. The Cougars took that one in stride too, and after 40 minutes and a 62-44 win, CCU owned the NCCAA DI title, the first National Champion crown earned by any Colorado Christian program in University history.

"I am so thankful for my team," gushed senior Kelsie Hert after raising the Championship banner at the conclusion of her final game in blue and gold. "We have worked so hard, but we have also tried our hardest to bring glory to God. He has has blessed us beyond measure and it was amazing to see Him at work during this tournament."

That sentiment echoed throughout the team after the emotional win. But while CCU sat in the driver's seat for almost the entire game, it wasn't always so evident that the Cougars would take home the title.

The contest opened with a balanced Cedarville squad on a 9-0 tear, leaping out from the opening tip and taking advantage of early Christian misses. A quick time-out from Head Coach Tim Hays righted the Cougar ship, and before long, CCU was in control of a 29-6 run that had the eventual champion up 29-15 at intermission.

First-half momentum bred a confidence that the Cougars ran with in the second. Building a lead that extended to 22, CCU players sensed the time was theirs early on.

"From the very first day, our goal was to win the whole thing," explained senior Stephenie Allen, "and after the first game this week I thought we had a good chance. We got off to a rough start today, but I wasn't panicked -- I knew as a team we would pick it up, and I was confident that, having worked so hard, we weren't going to let anything slip away from us."

Though NCCAA Player of the Year and Tournament MVP Christina Whitelaw was limited to seven points, sophomore guard BJ Moyes stepped up big. Playing clutch on her birthday, the Canberra, Australia native exploded for four makes from downtown on her way to a game-high 19 points. For her efforts, Moyes joined Whitelaw on the 2012 All-Tournament team.

"This is the best birthday present ever! To win a National Championship and be selected to the All-Tournament team is beyond what I could ask for," exclaimed Moyes after the win.

"We really needed others to step up and hit shots," remarked Hays. "BJ really responded."

As had been the case all week, Colorado Christian's defense proved too much for the Yellow Jackets as the game wore on. Though out of the gates, CU seemed to have little trouble with Christian's pesky press, the Cougars stayed aggressive and eventually wore the Cedarville squad down. Unable to score from behind the arc (the Jackets went a dismal 1-for-13), CU's woes extended inside, as the favorite shot a meager 29% from the field. Just 16 Jacket shots found the bottom of the net, as CU managed ten fewer attempts that did the Cougars.

Colorado Christian also had their hand in 22 Cedarville turnovers.

"They really had a rough time with our press," continued Hays, "they had trouble getting into their offense. Our desire to win was overwhelming, and that drove our effort on the defensive side of the ball."

Moyes and Whitelaw led that assault, combining for eight of Christian's 16 steals.

Allen and Hert, CCU's only seniors, wrapped up their careers with eight and seven points apiece, and combined for ten total Cougar boards.

"It's such a blessing to be able to end my career this way," summised Allen. "All four years I have worked to make this program something that creates a bigger platform to share Christ. Looking back, it's evident that we accomplished that and much, much more. I am so proud to be part of this experience, and I can't wait to see future Cougs follow in those steps and do even greater things."