CHESTERTOWN — Joy Sanders’ buzzer-beating layup completed Washington’s comeback from a three-point deficit with just under a minute to play Saturday as the home team rallied to beat Franklin & Marshall, 53-52, in the Centennial Conference opener for both teams.
The Shore ladies, led by Sanders’ 13 points, improved to 3-0 on the young season.
Amari Faust and Andrea Prestianne contributed 11 points apiece and Lizzie Hudock (eight points) led all players with 10 rebounds.
F&M’s Kennedy Wilburn scored a game-high 14 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field and 6-of-6 from the stripe.
Lizzie Neville (11 points) and Jacklyn Feit (10 points, eight rebounds) also scored in double digits for the guests.
Faust’s trey 3 minutes, 35 seconds in punctuated the locals’ run of 10 unanswered points to open the game.
Washington took its largest lead at 26-8 on a pair of Hudock free throws with 5:29 remaining in the half.
F&M (1-3) pulled to within 28-17 on a Quinn Galligan 3-pointer at the 1:47 mark, as part of a larger 5-0 run. That was the last scoring of the half for either team.
The momentum continued to swing the Diplomats’ way to start the second half as they scored 11 points in a row to close to 35-34 on a Neville jumper with just three and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Rachel Theim scored the next five points to add some cushion to Washington’s lead, 40-34, with 2:02 to go in the quarter.
A pair of Serena Pluta free throws made it 42-34, Washington, heading into the fourth quarter.
F&M took its first lead of the afternoon at 49-48 on a Wilburn jumper with 1:45 remaining.
Neville’s layup made it 51-48 with 57 seconds to go.
Kaitlyn Boggs made the back end of a two-shot foul and Sanders buried a jumper on Washington’s next possession to deadlock at 51 with 11 seconds remaining.
Natalie Kolbe was sent to the stripe shooting two after drawing a Sanders’ foul with 7 seconds to go. She missed the first shot — the team’s only miss on 18 attempts — but made the second to restore the Dips’ lead.
Washington coach Alisha Mosley quickly called a time-out to set up one final play. On the restart, Prestianne (five assists) found Sanders, who banked a shot off the left side of the glass with 2 seconds to spare.
The Shore ladies look to build off of last year’s historically great season when they won a program-record 17 games and advanced to the conference tournament semifinals for the first time.
Mosley, who returns for a 10th year as head coach, brings back 11 players from the 2021-22 squad led by 5-foot-8 senior guard Andrea Prestianne.
The roster breakdown is three seniors, six juniors, three sophomores and three freshmen.
Seniors Prestianne (Kennett Square, Pa.), 5-8 guard Joy Sanders (Baltimore, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School) and 5-10 forward Lizzie Hudock (Salem, N.J./Salem) are the captains.
Last year, Prestianne led the Centennial Conference in free throws made (117) and free throw percentage (85.7%).
She was the Shore ladies’ MVP, averaging a team high of 13.0 points, 2.4 assists and 1.7 steals per game. She started all 27 games for 17-10 WC.
Hudock, who is the team’s most experienced inside player, averaged 7.2 points and 5.7 rebounds a game last year. She appeared in 24 games, with 23 starts.
In 26 games, Sanders averaged 7.9 points and 4.9 rebounds behind Prestianne and Hudock.
The returning juniors are guard/forward Alyssa Hawes (Baltimore, Our Lady of Mount Carmel), forward Serena Pluta (Townsend, Del., St. Mark’s), forward Rachel Thiem (Sykesville, Liberty), center Kadija Tholley (Riverdale, Eleanor Roosevelt) and 6-1 forward Kaleigh White (Wilmington, Del., Ursuline Academy).
Pluta led the team in rebounds (6.4 rpg) and 22 blocked shots. She averaged 6.9 points in 26 games.
White, who was second on the team with 16 blocked shots, averaged 2.9 points and 2.2 rebounds in 24 games (13 starts).
Tholley, Theim and Hawes and appeared in 21, 24 and 25 games, respectively.
Also back are three sophomores: guard Karry Kelliher (Severna Park, St. Mary’s), forward Kiersten Rose (Upper Marlboro, Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr.) and guard/forward Avery Thomas (Malvern, Pa.).
Kelliher appeared in 25 games last season, earning three starts, and averaged 3.4 points and 2.0 rebounds.
Rose appeared in all 27 games; her line included 3.5 rebounds and 1.9 points a game.
Junior point guard Amari Faust (Burke, Va.) is one of four newcomers. She is a transfer from NCAA qualifier Emmanuel College in Boston; last year she appeared in 26 games for the 25-2 Saints and averaged 11.9 minutes a game.
The other first-year Shore ladies are freshmen: 6-2 center Kaitlyn Boggs (Lindwood, N.J.), guard Bryson Ostrum (Fairplay, Williamsport) and guard/forward Emma Robinson (Washington, D.C., Elizabeth Seton).