PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Hollie Mershon climbed to the top of the ladder, grabbed the pair of scissors and, for one of the first times in her college basketball career, looked unsure of what to do.
But after a few glances around the court, the Drexel senior settled on the piece of the net she wanted to cut off and then raised her arms toward the crowd in triumph.
Allow her to savor the moment: one of the best players in Drexel women's basketball history had just led her school to its first postseason championship.
Spurred by Mershon's go-ahead layup with 20.6 seconds remaining, Drexel rallied to beat Utah 46-43 in the WNIT title game Saturday, setting off a wild celebration at the Daskalakis Center with fans rushing the court and streamers floating down from the rafters.
"There's definitely nothing better than playing on your homecourt and winning a championship game and cutting down the net you were playing on for the whole season," said Mershon, wearing a newly made WNIT champion T-shirt and sitting in front of the championship trophy.
Mershon, named the tournament MVP, finished with 14 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals in her final college game.
Fellow senior Taylor Wootton had 16 points, including the 1,000th point of her career, for the Dragons (28-10), who had already become the first Philadelphia Division I women's team to reach a postseason tournament championship game.
Drexel, which set a program record for wins, also became just the fourth mid-major team in the 16-year history of the WNIT to win the championship, following Toledo (2011), Missouri State (2005) and Creighton (2004).
"This was the perfect finish for a great team," Drexel head coach Denise Dillon said. "It was obviously a long season but this team wanted as many games as possible. I wanted to coach this team 100 more games. And this team wanted to play 100 more games. I couldn't be happier with this outcome and giving the senior class a championship."
Senior guard Iwalani Rodrigues led Utah (23-14) with 12 points, including a 3-pointer that put the visiting Utes up 43-42 with just under 3 minutes remaining.
But following that bucket, Utah didn't score again the rest of the way. In the final minute, the visitors committed a key turnover in the backcourt, which allowed Drexel to call a timeout and put the ball in the hands of Mershon, who sliced through the lane for the go-ahead basket.