Ashten Prechtel got a shot on college basketball’s biggest stage and did not miss.
Well, she missed once, but it was inconsequential after all her makes.
The Discovery Canyon graduate and sophomore forward on the top-seeded Stanford women’s basketball team entered Tuesday’s NCAA Tournament regional final against Louisville with her team down a dozen, 45-33, with 5:36 left in the third quarter and a spot in the Final Four on the line.
Prechtel finished a perfect 6 of 6 from the field with 16 points, and Stanford won, 78-63. Her only miss came on her final shot, a free throw with 50.3 seconds left and the Cardinal up 13. She added four assists, three rebounds and two blocks.
“She was a two-way player. She played great defense. She rebounded,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said in her postgame press conference. “Honestly, I thought her three was the shot that really just kind of said, ‘All right, we're back. We can win this game.’ It was really exciting to see her play well. She's been doing great things for us all year. She really picked a great time to shine.”
The first of Prechtel’s three 3-pointers came after she assisted a Haley Jones Jumper and scored inside on an assist from Jones. With Stanford down four with less than three minutes left in the third, Prechtel worked a pick-and-pop play with Kiana Williams and connected right in front of Stanford’s bench. She went on to grab an offensive rebound, finish another layup and blocked a shot from Louisville’s Olivia Cochran, helping Stanford stay within two to start the fourth quarter.
VanDerveer appeared to draw up a play for Prechtel to start the fourth quarter. Prechtel set a screen before coming off one set for her and popped out to the 3-point line. She didn’t miss and gave Stanford a one-point lead. The lead quickly grew to eight thanks to buckets from Lexie Hull, who led the Cardinal with 21 points, and Williams.
“I don't think it was just me,” Prechtel said after the game. “We all started playing better. We were hitting shots and getting stops on defense. I think collectively we did start to feel that momentum, and we tried to keep it going, and I think we were able to do that throughout the third and fourth quarters.”
Prechtel’s final 3-pointer gave Stanford a 12-point lead with 4:45 to play, and she would help the Cardinal advance to the national semifinals with an assist and her final point, the first of two free throws.
Stanford is scheduled to play South Carolina, another No. 1 seed, at 4 p.m. Friday with a spot in the national championship game on the line.
“It's a huge deal to be able to go into the Final Four,” Prechtel said. “So like playing in this game when we were down 12 at halftime, I hadn't thought about that it could be our last game before, and that's when I started to think about it. I didn't want that, like we don't want that. We want to stay here for the long haul. … That we wanted to stay here in San Antonio was a big factor for us.”