INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Lubbock Christian's Nicole Hampton and Kelsey Hoppel spent last season on the bench, hoping to play for a national championship this year.
The plan worked - to perfection.
Hoppel scored 27 points, Hampton nearly had a quadruple-double and the Lady Chaps beat Alaska Anchorage 78-73 on Monday for their first Division II women's basketball title.
The seniors combined for 28 of Lubbock Christian's 38 second-half points after they redshirted last year so they would be eligible for the Lady Chaps' first year of postseason NCAA eligibility.
''I'm so glad we sat out because I wouldn't here today, we wouldn't be here today if we hadn't. It was such a good move by coach (Steve) Gomez,'' Hampton said. ''There's no better way to end your career.''
Hampton had 22 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and seven steals and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Hoppel made four 3-pointers and collected three assists and six steals on her way to the all-tournament team.
Led by its dynamic duo, Lubbock Christian (35-0) finished off the third perfect season ever in Division II.
''We had a storybook year and to fight off a team like that for 40 minutes really makes it special,'' Gomez said.
Alaska (38-3) was led by Megan Mullings, who had 23 points and 12 rebounds, and Jessica Madison, who scored 14 points. They also made the all-tourney team along with Jen Gemma of Bentley.
But after breaking the Division II single-season record for wins, the Seawolves came up one short of their ultimate goal.
It wasn't for lack of effort. They had a 47-30 rebounding edge, a 20-5 advantage on second-chance points and a 19-2 scoring edge for their reserves.
Alaska trailed 71-57 with 4:55 left before putting together an impressive comeback.
''We had decided at the timeout that we had to get stops, that's what we had done all year,'' Mullings said, fighting off tears during the postgame interview. ''So we decided that if we played crazy, out of control defense, things would swing our way.''
Alaska responded by forcing three straight turnovers and when Adrianna Dent banked in a 3 with 1:16 to go, the deficit was down to 73-69.
Hampton answered with a 12-foot jumper, and then wrestled the ball away from the Seawolves after Lubbock Christian missed the second of two free throws. She followed with two more foul shots to seal the victory - even if nobody on the floor was convinced it was over yet.
''You really want to wait until that final buzzer goes off,'' Hoppel said. ''When it went off, it was like a happy cry.''
A moment that made everything worth it.
''It's really incredible. It's sad because you're leaving your family,'' Hampton said. ''But there's no better way to end my senior year.''