One night after praying her three-pointer at the buzzer would drop, guard Courtney Nuest and her Becker teammates received some divine intervention on the defensive end.
With two seconds left, Cooper sophomore Kierra Wheeler drove for the tying layup and perhaps a foul. But the ball stayed out and the Bulldogs scored a 68-66 upset of the defending Class 3A state champions.
No. 3 seed Becker (27-4) led 40-34 at halftime and did not wilt in the second half against the second-seeded Hawks' vaunted pressure defense.
Bulldogs coach Dan Baird said his team carries "a no-quit attitude. If you notice, our girls don't hang their heads too much. They just play ball."
Cooper found it tougher to play their preferred style as foul calls mounted. For the game, the Hawks picked up 19 fouls to Becker's nine.
"I put a lot of emphasis on teaching my girls how to play aggressively, the right way without reaching in, so I do feel like we got some tough breaks," Cooper coach Kiara Buford said.
Hawks senior Aja Wheeler, who had 25 points, credited Becker for its ability to withstand pressure and apply some of its own.
"They're guard-oriented just like us so they were able to keep up," she said.
Down 62-55 with 3:49 to play, the Hawks (21-9) showed a champion's pride. Aja Wheeler got the ball to younger sister Kierra, who had 21 points and 21 rebounds, for the tying basket with 21 seconds left.
Then a Cooper foul sent sophomore guard Julia Bengtson to the free-throw line with 10 seconds on the clock. Saying she "ignored what was happening around me," she made both shots. She finished with a game-high 29 points.
A great outlet pass to Kierra Wheeler provided Cooper one encouraging last look.
"When she caught that I'm like, 'Oh, yeah, it's going in,'' Buford said. "But those things happen."