Both FHU basketball teams posted their best seasons ever, going where no Lady Lion or Lion team had gone before. Sensational national tournament runs featuring buzzer-beating shots climaxed history-setting seasons.
The Lady Lions, playing for their first national title ever, came back from a 14 point deficit in the second half, but missed a game-tying shot with five seconds left, losing the national championship to perennial power Oklahoma City, 80-76. They had advanced to the title game by defeating third-seeded Wiley (Texas) College, 88-86, in overtime. Hayley Newby, a junior from Knoxville, scored on a put-back of a Grace Alonso de Armiño, junior from Bilbao, Spain, desperation 3-pointer as time expired and sent the game into overtime. Both players were named to the NAIA national tournament's all-tournament team.
In addition, the two were named First Team NAIA All-Americans March 26 following the national tournament. It marked the first time two FHU players had been named All-Americans in a season. Freshman Taleeah Cross, South Fulton, Tenn., was named an honorable mention All-American.
The Lions missed their first-ever NAIA Fab Four appearance on a last second shot by St. Gregory's (Okla.) Josiah Campbell. The day before, the team had advanced to the final eight by defeating Talledega (Ala.), 71-64. In the first round, FHU had beaten Montana State-Northern, 71-63, for their first national tournament win. They closed out the season with a school- record 29 wins and the deepest post-season run in program history.
Kyle Teichmann, senior post from Brent- wood, Tenn., added to his already long list of post-season honors by becoming the Lions' first-ever First Team NAIA All- American. He ended his career as the university's all-time leading scorer with 2,272 career points, an average of 17.6 points per game over 129 games.
Junior guard Orlando Bass was named an honorable mention selection for the All- American team. He averaged 16.9 points per game and converted 76 three-point attempts over the season.
The Lady Lions (32-1) had dominated the American Midwest Conference during the regular season. They defeated Columbia College (Mo.) , 80-71, to win the conference tournament March 12. They had already claimed the regular season championship.
FHU also claimed several key all-conference awards, beginning with Neal being named the conference coach of the year. Newby, a junior forward, garnered the conference's player of the year honor and was named first team all-conference. Alonso de Armiño, a junior from Bilboa, Spain, joined her as first team all-conference.
Taleeah Cross, a freshman from South Fulton, Tenn., was named conference freshman of the year and second team all-conference. Brittany Montgomery, a senior from Scotts Hill, Tenn., claimed a third team all-conference slot.
Newby recorded her 20th double-double of the season with 26 points and 10 re- bounds in the championship game, making her the third Lady Lion in program history to post 20 or more double-doubles in a season.
Competing in the AMC for the first time, the Lady Lions decisively announced their arrival on the scene. "I think we met the challenge," Neal said.
The AMC title was the sixth all-time conference championship for FHU. They won TranSouth Conference titles in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2010 and 2013.
This was the third consecutive year the Lady Lions had entered the tournament as a No. 1 seed. Last year, they advanced to the Final Four before losing to eventual champion Westmont (Calif.).
The Lions (27-5) had advanced to the NAIA national tournament thanks to second place finishes in both the regular season race and in the American Mid- west Conference tournament. This year's championship game marked the sixth time the Lions had played in the finals of the conference tournament.
The AMC receives two automatic bids to the national tournament based on the size of the conference. Conference rules dictate that if the same team wins the regular season and the conference, the runner-up of the tournament gets the other bid.
FHU's Teichmann was named the conference's co-player of the year. Bass, a junior guard from Oakland, Tenn., was also named to the all-conference first team. Daniel Wooten, a sophomore guard from Memphis, was named to the third team and Reginald Gilmore, a senior forward from Chattanooga, Tenn., was an honor- able mention selection. Awards were presented at the tournament championship game.
Unranked in pre-season polls, the Lions entered the NAIA's Top 25 Dec. 10 at #15. They remained in the NAIA elite through- out the season, advancing to the top of the polls Jan. 28 when they tied Cal State- San Marcos for the number one spot.
The team set a program record for longest winning streak Jan. 25 when they won their 16th consecutive game. They broke another program record March 6 with a 120-91 win over Harris-Stowe (Mo.) State College. The victory gave them 26 season wins. Both previous records had been held by the 2001-02 squad.
This year marked the Lions' fourth national tournament appearance with the last one coming in 2011.