'Right now, we're moving on': Heroics from Hudson sends CMU to MAC Tournament semifinals
There were 12 seconds left. Eastern Michigan coach Fred Castro elected to send Central Michigan to the free throw line intentionally with a 69-66 lead.
Time was running out and the faces of the Chippewas bench said it all — desperation mode.
Sophomore guard Maddy Watters netted a pair of free throws. Nine seconds left. CMU fouled an EMU player, who made two more free throws.
Two more trips to the charity stripe would come for each program. Neither team missed a free throw.
It was 73-70. No timeouts left for the Chippewas, and all they had was a prayer with five seconds remaining while having to inbound under their own basket.
Sophomore forward Krya Bussell tossed the ball to senior guard Presley Hudson, the all-time leading scorer in CMU women's history. She began to dribble up the right side of the floor.
With such little time remaining, the expectation was EMU would foul Hudson before she could get the chance to even take a shot – just like the Eagles had done on CMU's previous three possessions. Instead, Castro let his defense play it out.
"There were five seconds left, I don't know if I would've fouled," said CMU coach Sue Guevara. "You trust your defense."
There was suddenly a feeling of chance that filled Quicken Loans Arena as the final seconds ticked off the clock, a moment that felt like hours.
Hudson continued down the floor with a behind the back, cross-over dribble and weaved her way past half court. As she approached the left wing, senior forward Reyna Frost set a screen and Hudson gave a jump-step past it. With a lunge forward, she put all her momentum into the shot. The ball gracefully flew into the air, breaking silence over the arena.
The fate of her four-year career as a Chippewa was arcing toward the rim as the buzzer sounded.
Nothing but net.
Hudson's team raced out to celebrate as she gave a fist pump. The crowd behind the bench went ballistic. Guevara pumped both of her fists toward the ground while letting out a scream.
On the heroics of Hudson tying the game at the end of regulation, No. 1 CMU (25-6) rose past No. 9 EMU (14-17) in overtime with an 88-80 victory in the MAC Tournament quarterfinals on March 13 at Quicken Loans Arena.
Hudson, during the post-game press conference, couldn't recall anything like it in her life.
"Nothing even close to as exciting and emotional as that," she said softly with a smile.
The Eagles did everything right to play spoiler. They held a lead in the closing seconds and executed perfectly until the final possession.
Hudson made them pay.
In overtime, it was all No. 3 in a gold jersey.
After Frost hit an and-one to cap off her double-double of 28 points and 13 boards, Hudson scored the remaining 11 points of the game.
"In the second half I wasn't attacking enough or doing much," Hudson said. "In overtime, if I got looks, I needed to be more aggressive and take shots."
Hudson, like her fellow senior Frost, finished with 28 points. She had just seven points in the first half, four less than what she tallied in a five minute overtime period.
All-in-all, regardless of it being the quarterfinals with two potential games left for CMU in the MAC Tournament, Guevara said this game had all of the feels of March basketball.
"At this point, it's survival of the fittest," Guevara said. "Right now, we're moving on."
With a half-second remaining and her CMU basketball career between her palms, Hudson did what she's done so often in her entire career — knocked down a 3-point field goal.
But none of them carried this weight. None of them left the Chippewas marching on.