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Local colleges

Jim Lee | Sioux City Journal
Saint Francis players Kalah Baer, left, and Skylarr Shurn celebrate their national championship Tuesday night in Sioux City, Iowa, after the Cougars capped an undefeated season by winning the 2014 NAIA Division II women’s basketball tournament.
Saint Francis 75, OZARKS 68

Saint Francis Cougars finish unbeaten, win 1st NAIA Division II title

Perfection ended perfectly for the Saint Francis Cougars women’s basketball team.

Standout guards Skylarr Shurn and Jenelle Wilson combined for 49 points – Shurn had a game-high 30 on her own – and the Cougars, 38-0 and ranked No. 1 in NAIA Division II nearly all season, defeated unranked College of the Ozarks 75-68 Tuesday in Sioux City, Iowa, to win their first NAIA national title.

It was the first time an NAIA Division II women’s team had finished the season undefeated since Morningside (Iowa) did it in 2009.

And it was the first time the Cougars had been in the championship game since 1999, when they lost to Shawnee State (Ohio) 80-65.

This time, there was no denying the Cougars, who survived a scare in the semifinals against Cardinal Stritch and played Tuesday with forward Brooke Ridley less than 100 percent with an injured ankle.

But Ridley shook it off to score 13 points and grab 14 rebounds, and the Cougars rallied from an early deficit to go to 69-23 all time in postseason competition.

The 38th and final victory closed out a precedent-shattering season in which the Cougars eclipsed the previous school record for consecutive victories by 17, extended the school record for consecutive home victories to 31 and went 12-0 against teams ranked in the NAIA Top 25.