Sooner or later Benet knew it would have to win again without Christen Prasse -- later as in next year.
Sooner came Tuesday night. The young Redwings managed just fine, thank you.
Prasse was knocked out of the game with a shot to the mouth in the waning moments of the first half, but minus its senior point guard No. 19 Benet pulled away from a halftime tie to win at Downers Grove South 55-38.
Sophomore Emily Eshoo scored 11 of her game-high 16 points in the third quarter, her 3-pointer giving Benet (14-8) the lead for good at 30-27 during a 13-0 run.
Eshoo herself took a hit to the throat going in for a layup midway through the fourth quarter, but was fine afterward.
"We got stops without fouling in that third quarter, and we were able to push the ball and get some easy baskets," Eshoo said. "We were concerned when (Prasse) went down. She definitely runs the show for us, settles us down, keeps us organized."
Prasse was injured on a scrum for a loose ball with 2:36 left in the first half, and stepped on. She consulted with a trainer at halftime, didn't return, and will visit a dentist Wednesday. Benet went 3-1 at the beginning of the season when Prasse had a bad ankle, which didn't hurt the confidence of a team that starts two sophomores and a freshman.
"That was probably the best time of year to be without her," Eshoo said. "She helps us a lot, but we can be competitive without her."
The game got off to an inauspicious start for Benet.
Downers Grove South (11-8) hit 8 of its first 10 shots, Claire Hardy and Megan Brashaw both scoring 5 early points, and Benet turned it over 8 times in the first quarter to dig a 15-6 hole. The Redwings quickly erased it, a Katherine Doyle three-point play and Doyle 3-pointer highlighting a 9-0 run to start the second quarter. Doyle, who scored 11 points, just beat the first-half clock with a jumper to send Benet into the break tied.
Tied at 22-22, Benet sped up the pace, much to the Redwings' delight. Eshoo and Emily Schramek, who scored 7 of her 13 points in the third quarter, hit back-to-back 3s in transition to get it to 33-27.
"When (Downers South) set up defensively, we had a difficult time penetrating. Honest to God it seemed like they were able to (set up) the whole first half," Benet coach Peter Paul said, "but in the third quarter we had a chance to run a little bit more. If we shoot well, we're going to be in every game. That's Benet basketball."
Downers Grove South coach Ellen O'Brien burned three timeouts in the third quarter to try to stop the bleeding, to no avail. Benet hit 7s for the game, while O'Brien's Mustangs made just 5 total field goals in the second half. Benet's 55 points were the most given up by Downers Grove South this season.
Losing the lanky Hardy to a third foul didn't help matters.
"That was a killer for us," O'Brien said. "You just can't give their shooters extra time to get their feet set."
Brashaw finished with 9 points and Hardy 8 for Downers Grove South.
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