Nicole Hampton recorded possibly the first triple-double in Lubbock Christian University program history, and her performance with 15 rebounds, 11 points and 11 assists helped top-seeded LCU move into the round of 16 with a 78-57 win over eight-seeded Southern University - New Orleans Thursday in the opening round of the 33rd Annual NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship.
Triple-double records were not kept on file prior to the 2003-2004 season and Hampton's mark is the only triple-double since those records were kept. Officially, her mark does signify the first time the goal has been accomplished by a Lady Chaps member at the tournament and the first in program history under the tenure of head coach Steve Gomez. The last time a player had a triple-double at the tournament was Mar. 17, 2000 when Whitney Ballinger completed the task for Campbellsville University.
Hampton's numbers were solid, but the Lady Chaps also received balance production elsewhere. Kelsey Canavan produced her third consecutive double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, Kelsey Hoppel led LCU with 18 points and Courtney Wilson contributed 17 points. Hampton's 15 rebounds matched a career high and her 11 assists marked a new career high.
SUNO had a 4-2 lead erased by a three-pointer from Haley Burton and LCU never trailed the rest of the way. LCU slowly built a 10-point lead at 27-17 after a 7-0 run with 7:41 remaining in the first half. April Perry, the NAIA's leading scorer this season, would respond with five consecutive field goals and a 10-0 Lady Knights run to tie the game at 27-27 with 2:07 left in the half. LCU was 0-for-7 from the field with three turnovers during the SUNO run, but they were able to rally back in the final two minutes of the half to grab the momentum back. The Lady Chaps closed the final two minutes of the half with a 10-1 run and Hampton's five points during the run helped LCU take a 37-28 lead into the locker room. Perry led all scorers with 13 points in the first half.
LCU, the nation's leading team in field goal shooting, struggled with a 35.1% (13/37) shooting mark during the first half, as SUNO showed why they lead the NAIA in defensive field goal percentage. The Lady Chaps were able to turn their shooting woes around in the second half. They shot 51.5% (17/33) in the second half and they never led by less than seven points. Trailing 65-52 with 7:41 left in regulation, SUNO attempted to rally with a 5-0 run, but it was short-lived and LCU did not allow a point from the Lady Knights over the final 4:45. LCU went on a 13-0 scoring run to close out the game.
The Lady Chaps completed the game 42.9% (30/70) from the field. SUNO was held without a three-point field goal (0-for-3) in the game. They did receive a double-double from Janee Morton, who had 11 rebounds to go along with a game-high 20 points (16 points in the second half). Perry finished with 16 points in the losing cause for SUNO, who had their season end with a 19-5 mark and a second appearance at the national tournament in program history.
LCU moves to 14-9 all-time in national tournament history and they advance to the round of 16 for the seventh time (out of 10 first round games) all-time and for the third consecutive season. The Lady Chaps move to 30-3 overall on the season and the 30-wins is a single-season record. They will play at 7 p.m. (Central) Friday against either Georgetown (Ky.) or Lyon College.