The Centre College women are hoping that experience counts for something this weekend.
“We’ve never been in the NCAA tournament, but these guys have seen a ton of different things thrown at them this year, so hopefully they’re ready for that,” Austin-Robinson said.
A Centre team that has played in nine of a possible 12 conference tournament games over the last four seasons finally gets its a shot in the NCAA when the Colonels host a four-team sub-regional Friday and Saturday at Alumni Gymnasium.
Their first-round game is against Guilford, a Greensboro, N.C.-based team that is rolling into the NCAA with wins in seven of its last eight games, including three last weekend to win the Old Dominion Athletic Conference tournament.
“They’re a young team that seems like they’re coming into their own at the end of the season,” Austin-Robinson said.
The Quakers (22-6) start two sophomores, two juniors and a senior, and their strength lies in the frontcourt.
“They’ve got a couple kids that are great shot-blockers ... and they’re a good rebounding team. They’re long and athletic,” Austin-Robinson said.
Sophomore forward Gabby Oglesby leads the Quakers in points (15.0), rebounds (7.7) and blocked shots (2.3) per game. Oglesby, who leads the ODAC in blocks, was named the league’s player of the year and most outstanding player in the conference tournament.
“On film, she is outstanding,” Austin-Robinson said of the 5-foot-11 Oglesby. “We’ve got to make sure we’re ready for her in the paint. She’s a great shot-blocker, and she’s long in the post.”
Guard Jazlyn Gibbs, the only senior who plays regularly, averages 13.4 points per game and is shooting 39.6 percent from 3-point distance. Sophomore Morgan King, a 6-1 center, averages 9.5 points and 6.0 rebounds.
This is Guilford’s best season since 2004. The Quakers are making their first NCAA appearance since 2002 and their third overall.
Centre has made the NCAA field six times but hasn’t been to the tournament since 2001.
Lea Wise Prewitt, who coached the Colonels to their first three NCAA appearances in 1987-89 — including a trip to the Final Four in ’89 — now watches her daughter, Maggie Prewitt, lead them.
Prewitt, the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference women’s player of the year, had 51 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists in three games to lead Centre to its first SCAC tournament title. She averages 17.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and a league-best 6.6 assists.
Junior forward Chelsea Benham averages 12.0 points and 6.1 rebounds, sophomore forward Paige Baechle averages 9.2 points and 5.3 rebounds and center Lauren Huter, another of the team’s eight seniors, averages 9.0 points and 6.7 boards.
Centre has shot the ball better than Guilford both from the field (44.4 percent to 40.9) and at the free-throw line (79.4 to 68.9), but Guilford averages about four more rebounds per game (42.9 to 38.7).
Austin-Robinson, the SCAC women’s coach of the year, said she expects the Colonels to face a man-to-man defense based on videos of Guilford’s recent games.
“Who knows what you’ll see, but our kids have got to be ready to make adjustments.”
She said she’s glad that her players won’t have to adjust to unfamiliar surroundings on the road, and she said she thinks the fact that Centre has successfully hosted NCAA men’s basketball and football postseason games in recent years helped her team get a chance to play at home as well.