“It was a foul. I was so set on getting open, but we were not going to lose,” said Prewitt. “We just had to defend for one second and everyone just came and said we were good. I was going to cry (after the foul), but then I knew we were going to win.”
Hoover’s missed touched off a celebration of hugs, smiles and cheers from Centre coaches, players and fans as the Colonels will be going to NCAA third round for the first time since 2001. Centre will face Carth on Friday.
“It usually just takes a shot to get the ball rolling and start us on a good flow,” guard Bridgett Winstead, who hit a 3-pointer to give Centre its first lead in the second half at 44-41, said. “We started running in transition. We like to run. That’s our game.”
Prewitt’s game is just doing it all.
“Maggie is our greatest competitor. She’s been on a mission and just carries. Sometimes we watch her play too much,” Centre coach Wendie Austin-Robinson said. “But the second half we got to spots and played off her more. Normally she carries us and we find a way to finish just like we did tonight. We just told her to find a way to get to the rim and she did.”
Centre still trailed 53-49 with 4:38 to play before Benham took over. She had one basket nullified by a charge, but she hit two free throws with 2:20 left and after Prewitt’s free throws tied the game at 53-53, Benham scored inside with 57.6 seconds left to tie the game again at 55-55.
Benham forced a loose ball that the Colonels controlled with 28.2 seconds left and then was fouled off a drive following a pass by Prewitt.
“I have never heard the gym get so quiet,” Benham, who had 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists, said. “I didn’t care. I heard one noise, a click of a camera. But I¿like pressure situations. They have put me in that position before with the last shot. They designed the play specifically for me. I knew the team trusted me.”
“We even changed the name of the play so they wouldn’t know what was coming,” the Centre coach said.
The Colonels, who missed their first 11 shots, finished the game only 17-for-57 from the field, but went 6-for-19 from 3-point range — 5-for-10 in the second half — and 17-for-18 at the foul line (Prewitt was 9-for-9, Benham 4-for-4). Washington was 20-for-57 from the field, including only 3-for-14 from 3-point range, and 12-for-16 at the foul line.
Centre (25-4) went 6:38 to start the game without a field goal before freshman Maggie Hartlage finally converted inside the lane. Washington (22-5) used a 22-9 surge to open the 32-20 halftime lead.
“This team’s forte all year has been getting down at halftime and making adjustments, but to be honest I was nervous because this was a great team we were playing with a lot of tradition,” Austin-Robinson said. “We finally got tough toward the end. We found a way to counter their physicality that was bothering us on our shots. I¿liked our roughness and desire. Again, we had the grit to grind it out. These girls just have huge hearts and just don’t want this season to end.”
CENTRE 57, WASHINGTON 55
Melissa Gilkey 4-8 5-5 13, Brianne Monohan 4-10 2-4 11, Dani¿Hoover 3-13 2-2 9, Bethany Morrison 3-5 0-1 6, Maddy Scheppers 4-11 3-4 12, C. Schaeperkoester 1-5 0-0 2, Alyssa Johanson 1-5 0-0 2, Alexandra Keane 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan Rettig 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-57 12-16 55.
CENTRE COLLEGE (26-3)
Maggie Prewitt 5-15 9-9 21, Chelsea Benham 4-14 4-4 12, Jane Goatley 2-3 0-0 6, Maggie Hartlage 2-4 2-3 6, Bridget Winstead 2-7 0-0 6, Lauren Huter 1-4 2-2 4, Paige Baechle 1-5 0-0 2, Cailynn West 0-0 0-0 0, Jenna Mire 0-0 0-0 0, Alyson Burke 0-5 0-0 0. Totals 17-57 17-18 57.
Halftime—Washington 32-20. 3-Point Goals—Washington 3-14 (Scheppers 1-3, Monahan 1-2, Hoover 1-7, Schaeperkoetter 0-2), Centre 6-19 (Goatley 2-3, Winstead 2-5, Prewitt 2-3, Burke 0-4, Hartlage 0-2, Benham 0-2). Fouled Out—Gilkey. Rebounds—Washington 42 (Scheppers, Gilkey 12), Centre 36 (Benham 8). Assists—Washington 12 (Morrison 7), Centre 8 (Prewitt 4). Total Fouls—Washington 13, Centre 12. Technical Fouls—None.