Hejnas' last-second layup lifts Widener past Catholic in second-round play
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Vanessa Hejnas hit a layup off a pass from fellow senior Lil Carney with 2.9 seconds left to help Widener knock off Catholic 57-56 in the second round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday.
Catholic was in good shape when it used a 7-0 run to open a 51-44 lead with 6:50 remaining, behind Kataruna Owunna's two layups and Jenny McGann's 3-pointer. However, Widener (23-5) fought back. Senior Kate Dellinger drilled a 3-pointer and, after Kelli Josephsen made a jumper, hit a driving layup with 3:07 to play for a 53-49 deficit.
Senior Francesca Lee made a layup with 2:35 remaining for a 53-51 cushion before Jill Woerner hit one from the line for a three-point margin with 2:19 to go.
Hejnas nailed a jumper with 2:05 to go for a 54-53 deficit before Owunna made a short jumper with 1:40 remaining for another three-point contest.
Dellinger made a jumper with 54 seconds remaining to push the score to 56-55 before McGann ran over junior Joanna Persiano for an offensive foul with 28 seconds left to set up the final possession.
Widener elected not to call time out and gave the ball to Carney on the right wing. She drove to the goal and found a wide-open Hejnas, who laid it in with 2.9 seconds left for the Pride’s only lead. Catholic was forced to go the length of the court, but could not get off a shot as time expired.
Dellinger finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season. Persiano scored 15 points on five 3-pointers, one short of a career high, and Hejnas added 12 points.
Owunna scored 22 points, Woerner netted 16 points and Josephsen added 10 for the Cardinals, who shot 37 percent (22 of 60) from the field. One day after notching the first NCAA tournament win by any women’s team at Widener, the squad is off to the sectional semifinals.
This is the Pride’s fourth trip to the NCAA tournament and sixth appearance in postseason. The squad went to the tournament in 1982, 2004 and 2009 as well as the ECAC South tournament in 2005 and 2010.