Now Centre College’s eight seniors can relax on their senior day.
The Centre women held Millsaps scoreless for more than seven minutes in the first half Friday, led by 11 at the break, then rolled to a 66-51 win to clinch their first Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference regular-season championship since 2001.
Maggie Prewitt scored Centre’s first 10 points of the second half and finished with a game-high 32¿points on 10-of-15 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds, four steals and three assists for the Colonels, who host Rhodes today in their regular-season finale.
“I think I’m at the point being a senior where sometimes I have to put the team on my back and take control and be confident,”¿Prewitt said of her scoring burst in the second half. “And to have the kind of atmosphere we had, and to have all those students cheering for us, it only builds your confidence even more and makes you play even harder.”
Chelsea Benham had 12 points and five boards and Lauren Huter finished with nine points to go along with 12 rebounds for the Colonels (21-2, 14-1 SCAC).
Centre’s last league championship was in 2000-01 season, when it shared the title with DePauw and Sewanee. The last time Centre won the league outright was in the 1993-94 season with a 12-2 mark.
“We talked about that. If we would have lost both this weekend, we still could have been co-champs,”¿Centre assistant coach Tom¿Campbell said. “But these kids wanted to win it outright, and I thought they were really good.”
With the Colonels up 33-22 at halftime, Prewitt hit three jumpers, converted a three-point play and had a free throw to give them a 43-32 lead with 14 minutes, 2 seconds to go.
Leading 49-37, the Colonels then broke the game open.
Prewitt hit a jumper with the shot clock winding down to key an 8-0 run which pushed the Centre lead to 57-37 with 8:10 remaining. Huter had three free throws during the run, and Maggie Hartlage’s 3-pointer in the right corner off a pass from Prewitt made it a 20-point Centre lead.
“Maggie was special. They decided to take away our shooters. We are second in the country in 3s, and they knew that and they took away our shooters, and Maggie just took over,”¿Campbell said. “She made some special plays in the second half. You could see her getting in that kind of zone.”
Prewitt said she needed to be ready to shoot since she was not in a loss to Birmingham-Southern last Friday, the only blemish on the Colonels’ conference record.
“I really needed to take over the game and wasn’t able to, I wasn’t ready to shoot, and I think that really helped me tonight,” she said. “They gave me the shots and I was just a lot more confident.”
The Colonels led by as much as 24¿on Hartlage’s layup with 1:13 to go before winning by 15.
Centre held Millsaps scoreless for 7:22 to turn a 15-10 deficit into a 24-15 lead with 5:40 left in the first half. Prewitt started the 14-0 run with a drive and 3-pointer, Paige Baechle had two jumpers, Hartlage scored on a backdoor layup on a pass from Huter, Prewitt had another free throw, then Huter capped the run with a jumper from the right side as the Colonels opened up a nine-point lead they would never relinquish.
“We were really good about keeping the ball out of the paint and getting to their shooters,”¿Campbell said. “And we kept them off balance. They could never get a rhythm, and that I think was the key. We had some rhythm and they never could find any.”
Centre shot 50 percent in the second half and finished 23 for 47. The Colonels were 17 for 23 at the free-throw line and outrebounded Millsaps 39-22.
The Majors (19-5, 11-4) trimmed the lead to 26-22 on two free throws from Shantae Morton, but Prewitt answered with a 3-pointer from the left wing with 2:07 to go. She then had a steal, was fouled and hit two free throws with 1:47 to make it 31-22. Benham’s two free throws with 55 seconds left pushed the Colonels lead to 33-22 at the half.
Millsaps had just two field goals over the final 12:40 of the first half, going 8 for 24 from the field. The Majors were 20 for 53 overall and hit just five of 12 free throws.
CENTRE 66, MILLSAPS 51
Velvet Johnson 6-15 1-2 16, Lovie Love 5-9 0-0 12, Janice Okeke 3-8 2-7 8, Shante Morton 2-9 2-2 7, Brittnei Earl 2-5 0-1 4, Natasha Mbenza 1-1 0-0 2, Shatoya White 1-4 0-0 2, Elizabeth Sigafoose 0-2 0-0 0, Samantha Perez 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-53 5-12 51.
Maggie Prewitt 10-15 10-13 32, Chelsea Benham 4-8 4-4 12, Maggie Hartlage 4-5 0-0 9, Lauren Huter 3-4 3-6 9, Paige Baechle 2-6 0-0 4, Hillary Moore 0-1 0-0 0, Alexis Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Jenna Mire 0-1 0-0 0, Elizabeth Bressler 0-0 0-0 0, Cailynn West 0-0 0-0 0, Jane Goatley 0-2 0-0 0, Bridget Winstead 0-3 0-0 0, Aubrey Holle 0-0 0-0 0, Alyson Burke 0-2 0-0 0. Total 23-47 17-23 66.
Halftime—Centre 33-22. 3-Point Goals—Millsaps 6-17 (Morton 1-5, Love 2-3, Johnson 3-8, Sigafoose 0-1), Centre 3-13 (Prewitt 2-3, Hartlage 1-2, Mire 0-1, Goatley 0-2, Winstead 0-2, Burke 0-2, Benham 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Millsaps 22 (Okeke 5), Centre 39 (Huter 12). Assists—Millsaps 10 (Johnson, Sigafoose, Perez 2), Centre 8 (Prewitt 3). Total Fouls—Millsaps 17, Centre 10. Technical—Millsaps bench. A—512.