Breske, Prochaska lead Falcons back to glory

Sean Shapiro and Sean Shapiro

CLEVELAND — After 364 days, redemption had finally come.

On March 13, 2009, BG fell to underdog Ball State 55-51, failing to win the Mid-American Conference title and missing the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season.

During that loss to Ball State, Lauren Prochaska and Tara Breske failed to live up to their expectations and didn’t deliver the effort that had led the Falcons to a dominant regular season.

“The player of the year in the conference lost her confidence,” BG coach Curt Miller said after the loss. “Our center and captain lost her confidence.”

All that lost confidence was erased from memory on Saturday as Prochaska launched the ball into the air with one second remaining, and once it landed on the floor of Quickens Loan Arena, the new MAC Tournament MVP was already swarmed by her teammates.

Redemption had come in the form of a 62-53 victory, and it couldn’t have been sweeter.

Trailing by 10 points to archrival Toledo, a team that had broken their aura of perfection in the rivalry in their first meeting, BG went on a 17-2 run to reclaim the lead before halftime with Breske and Prochaska leading the way.

First Prochaska scored seven of her team’s next 14 points to tie the game at 24, and then Breske delivered the lead on two of her trademark turnaround jumpers.

But, they weren’t done yet.

In the second half, BG trailed by one with less than nine minutes remaining, and during a timeout a “Great Moment in MAC History” played on the Jumbotron — it was BG’s loss to Ball State from a year ago.

While Prochaska and Breske admitted they hadn’t seen the Jumbotron during the timeout, they came out of the break motivated to erase the image that many Toledo fans had just cheered.

First the two-time MAC Player of the Year drained a 3-pointer to regain the lead, and then a minute later she did it again, giving her team a five-point cushion.

With BG clinging to a 3-point lead, Breske made the play of the game with 59 seconds remaining.

Toledo’s Naama Shafir teed up for what would have been a 15-foot jumper, but Breske soared in for a big block with her right hand.

“I was just happy we got the ball back,” Breske said. “I just tried to not let her get that shot off.”

Just 16 seconds later, Prochaska swished home two free throws and a four-point swing that all but ensured the victory.

Finally, as Breske and Prochaska took their turns cutting down the Quicken Loans Arena nets, any memory of the loss to Ball State was replaced by pure joy.