With four sophomores and a freshman in their starting lineup, the Becker Bulldogs are probably one of the youngest teams in the state tournament.
On Wednesday, though, the youthful Bulldogs displayed poise and maturity in a 68-67 victory over Marshall in the Class 3A quarterfinals at Maturi Pavilion. After trailing by 16 points early in the first half and then losing a 14-point lead in the second, the Bulldogs pulled out the victory on a three-pointer by sophomore Courtney Nuest at the buzzer.
"I was praying it would go in," said Nuest. "It's an awesome feeling."
Becker coach Dan Baird said the game-winner capped a remarkable final five minutes for the Bulldogs.
"For the last five minutes, we didn't have any timeouts," said Baird. "So, we couldn't diagram anything for them or set anything up. That was a great play by Jules [Julia Bengston], who made a great pass to Courtney, who made a great shot. They played with a lot of heart."
Marshall opened a 19-3 lead in the first eight minutes, but the Bulldogs recovered to take a 26-23 lead at halftime.
Nuest said she and her teammates remained calm in the first half, "by trusting the process. And just thinking of the next play."
The third-seeded Bulldogs (26-8) eventually opened a 56-42 lead with 6:50 left, but the Tigers roared back with a 19-3 run to take a 61-59 lead with 1:50 remaining. After a free throw with 14 seconds to play, Marshall led 67-65.
"I couldn't be more proud of our effort," Marshall coach Dan Westby said. "We battled back. They made a big shot. A tough shot."
Nuest scored 18 points and Bengston 15 to lead the Bulldogs.
Jordyn Hilgemann scored 26 points and Emily Meier 18 to pace the Tigers (21-8).