It might have been April 1st, but the Transylvania University women’s basketball team taking the National Championship Title is the furthest thing from a joke. Our women’s basketball team made history on Saturday as not just the first Transylvania sports team to appear in a national championship, but also becoming the first to win a national title.
The team has been breaking records since last season when they made it to the Elite Eight for the first time in the program’s history. This season, they made history once again when they made it to the Final Four, beating New York University 79-63 and moving on to play Smith College. The team had their eyes on the prize as they secured a 76-65 win over Smith to gain a spot in the National Championship. No. 1 ranked Christopher Newport Captains and No. 2 ranked Transylvania Pioneers would go head to head for the National Title.
The only way to describe the energy at the American Airlines Center on Saturday morning was electric. Transylvania fans and alumni traveled hundreds of miles to show their support for the team. The Transylvania Volleyball Team was there cheering on their fellow athletes, and President Brien Lewis, too, showed his continued support. Some fans had caught overnight flights and some, like myself, did the twelve-hour road trip from Lexington to Dallas. After an exciting and undefeated season, Transy fans were fired up and ready to watch the team take what was rightfully theirs.
The first quarter began with Christopher Newport taking an early lead of 12-6, but after a quick timeout from Transy, the Pioneers were able to get the score to 15-12 Captains. The second quarter saw Transy finding their groove and with a well-placed three from Kennedy Harris (‘24) Transy took the lead with 20-18. By the end of the first half the score was 23-21 Transy, and the team had successfully shaken the also undefeated Captains. The excitement in the stadium was palpable. The beginning tastes of victory had Transy fans screaming for more.
The second half began with Transy building on their lead with the score being 36-29 with two minutes left in the third quarter. The Pioneers continued to push the Captains, ending the quarter 39-32 Transy. The last quarter of the game had every person in the crowd on the edge of their seats if they weren’t already on their feet. With just two minutes left on the clock, the score was 47-47. This was the team’s last chance to leave everything they had on the court. With two sunk free throws from Kellione the crowd watched intensely to see if our defense could hold the Captains at bay. A lay-up from Thornton and free throws from Stacy had the score 55-49 Transy. The Captains saw a brief glimpse of hope after a three put the score at 55-52, but a CNU foul had Laken Ball making two final free throws with two seconds remaining. Transylvania had secured a 33-0 record and the title of National Champions with a final score of 57-52. After the historical season they’ve had, there could not have been a more perfect ending.
Madison Kellione, a senior on the team, made history yet again by receiving the Elite 90 award for maintaining a 3.96 GPA while also having an undefeated season. She also led the game in points, scoring 17 of 57. Senior Daisa Thornton achieved a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Kennedi Stacy finished with 8 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 steals–almost a triple-double!
This team has put their all into the game and into each other, and it shows on the court. They move as a unit, playing as five parts of a fantastic whole. Congratulations to Coach Fulks, the entire coaching staff, and the brilliant players for a season that will go down in history!
There will be a welcome home celebration for the team on Wednesday, April 5th at 3:30pm in the Clive M. Beck Center!