|Sidebar: Hatter Seniors Go Out as Champions|
They got to taste the thrill of victory two years ago, and the heartbreak of defeat last year.
For the Hatter senior class, they will one day be able to remember the night they pulled together to overcome adversity and huge odds in order to close their careers as conference champions.
"I am so happy," said senior Janelle Mills, who played in her 129th career game. "This is so important because it's our last year, and to share it with people who have been here since my freshman year is so special. I am just so happy to go out as a champion. It is so amazing."
Fellow senior Ashley Dennis had a strong outing in the championship game, collecting eight points and three rebounds while drawing a charging call against the Eagles' Sarah Hansen.
"Words cannot express what I am feeling," Dennis said. "We have been through so much and we have made it again. This is the best way I ever could have imagined to end my senior year. I am so, so excited."
Shanasa Sanders had a feeling back in February that the Hatters might just finish the season on a high note.
"I remember telling Victoria (McGowan) after the second time we lost to (FGCU) that maybe it was a sign that we were saving our best for last," Sanders said. "The third time was the charm, we stuck together today and got a win."
McGowan, one of the most decorated athletes in Stetson history, has now helped lead the Hatters to two NCAA Tournaments in the past three years.
"After losing last year, coming back and winning means so much for the seniors, and everybody else on the team," McGowan said. "Everybody on the team just believed, and that's what got us the win."
When asked how special the senior class was and how much they meant to her, head coach Lynn Bria started to get choked up.
"I don't know if I can do that," Bria said. "They mean everything to me. I get a front row seat to see them all the time. I don't pay for it. I just get to sit there and watch some great basketball. We have a lot of fun together off the court, and that's what I am going to miss.
"They have meant everything to me, they are a very special class, and I don't know if I will ever be able to experience it again as a coach," Bria added. "They are just that special."
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