Pyros scored eight points in the final two minutes Saturday to give the host Crusaders a 46-45 victory to delay Providence’s first championship appearance for at least one more season.
“This was really tough,” Providence Coach Andrew Bencze said. “You’ve got to give credit to Village, you know. They played real hard and they were down most of the game, so they just kept fighting back.”
Providence (19-10) took the lead on the first possession of the second quarter and held it until there were 57 seconds left in the fourth, when Pyros hit both of her free throws for a 43-42 advantage.
After a Pioneer miss and two more made free throws by Pyros, the Pioneers, who struggled mightily in the final frame to find any offense, got a clutch three-point basket from freshman Fabi Jimenez to tie the game at 45 with six seconds to go.
But then Village Christian (18-13), the No. 11 seed, had Aubrey Pyburn throw the inbounds pass three-quarters down the floor to Pyros, who drew a foul, sending the senior to the line with 3.6 seconds left. She hit the first and missed the second. The Pioneers grabbed the rebound, but Providence’s Kristie Kawamoto’s desperate heave from about half court never had much of a chance, leaving the Pioneers heartbroken.
“[Pyros] can really fill it up,” Bencze said of Village Christian’s game-high scorer with 18 points. “We knew we had to come in and really crowd her out of the key and we did a great job of that for about three quarters and six minutes. But the last part of the quarter, we just kind of lost track a little bit.”