The Drexel University women’s basketball team is moving on to their second straight Colonial Athletic Association championship final after overcoming the Northeastern University Huskies 73-69, March 15 in a heart-racing overtime affair. The Dragons will play for a bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament and their first CAA championship since 2009.
Neither team got off to a good start on offense. After a layup from junior Niki Metzel opened the game, the Dragons were scoreless for over five minutes, missing 10 straight shots. But the Huskies didn’t fare much better, missing multiple wide open looks while jogging out to a 5-2 lead.
A driving layup from freshman Keishana Washington broke the cold streak for Drexel, but a Northeastern steal from senior Jess Genco lead to a deep two from junior Ayanna Dublin. Sophomore Kayla Bacon completed an and-one for Drexel, but Northeastern senior Gabby Giacone banked three-straight layups for the Huskies, pushing their lead to six. Part of Giacone’s success came from the fact that Metzel was out of the game due to foul trouble.
Junior Aubree Brown went coast-to-coast for a layup, but it was answered by another Giacone layup. An off-balance jumper from Washington cut the Huskies advantage to four. Senior Tereza Kracikova drove and kicked out to junior Ana Ferariu on the baseline who nailed the jumper for Drexel that made it 19-18.
On the next Drexel possession, Ferariu completed a putback to give Drexel their first lead since the beginning of the game. Northeastern answered with a deep jumper from Dublin and a three from Genco — the first three of the game.
Neither team shot well from three in the half, with the teams going a combined 1-15 (6.6 percent) from deep. Another bucket from Ferariu and a jumper from Washington knotted the game up at 23 heading into halftime. Ferariu and Washington combined for 12 of Drexel’s 23 points in the half.
Both offenses came alive in the third quarter. A Metzel layup put the Dragons back on top, followed by a jumper from Washington.
The Huskies went on a run to take the lead, scoring seven unanswered points. Freshman Alexis Hill made a layup, followed by another bucket from Dublin and then capped off by an open elbow three from junior Shannon Todd.
Metzel fought through contact for another tough jumper but Todd sunk her second straight three to give Northeastern a six-point lead. Metzel added another bucket, but the Dragons found themselves down 45-41 going into the final period.
Metzel stayed hot in the fourth, opening the period with a layup and a baseline jumper to make it 46-45. Metzel had 15 points in the second half on 7-9 shooting. The Dragons took the lead as the Northeastern offense went cold, missing their first seven shots of the quarter. Brown was able to draw a foul on a three-pointer, and hit the free throws to give Drexel the two-point lead.
A pair of free throws by Todd tied the game at 48 with five minutes to go, but CAA Player of the Year junior Bailey Greenberg completed an and-one to put Drexel back up by three. However, Giacone scored two straight layups to put the Huskies up by one.
A free throw from Metzel tied things up but Genco found May underneath on a backdoor cut for an easy layup. Greenberg drew a foul and hit two clutch free throws to tie it up at 54 with 1:27 to go. After Brown couldn’t finish on a layup, Northeastern got a chance to win the game with the shot clock unplugged. Todd got the ball and chucked an elbow three that bricked off the backboard, sending the game into overtime.
Drexel won the tip and Greenberg drove for a layup to give the Dragons the early lead in overtime. Nihill came up with a steal off Dublin and passed to Ferariu for a fast-break score. Dublin answered with a layup, but Washington came back with a big bucket. Washington drove again and was fouled, and the rookie made both free throws to make it 62-56, Drexel’s largest lead of the day. Washington had six points in the overtime.
With time running out for the Huskies, Hill completed a three-point play, but Metzel answered with two free throws to push Drexel’s lead to five. After a jump ball, Northeastern head coach Kelly Cole was assessed a crucial technical foul for complaining to the referee, which resulted in two more Metzel free throws.
Two more freebies by Washington made it 70-63, but Genco nailed a three to cut the lead to four. Metzel hit two more free throws, but a three-point play from Dublin made it a one-possession game with 9.5 seconds to go. However, Metzel was fouled again and made one of two to ice the game for the Dragons.
For the second game in a row, Metzel led the game in points with 24. Greenberg had a season-high 15 rebounds, while also posting 15 points. For Northeastern, Dublin led with 16 points. Drexel shot 25-60 (41.7 percent) overall, while not hitting a three all day, going 0-12 from deep. The Huskies went 23-66 (34.8 percent) from the field with 5-20 (20 percent) shooting from beyond the arc.
The Dragons will play in the conference championship March 16 at 1 p.m, with the game being televised on NBC Sports Philadelphia. Drexel will take on the No. 4 Towson University Tigers for the CAA crown. The 19-12 Tigers are coming off a 68-48 victory over the No. 3 University of North Carolina Wilmington Seahawks in the prior round.
Drexel and Towson split their two matches this year, with the Tigers taking the first match 55-54, Jan. 4 and the Dragons winning the rematch handily 77-44, March 9. They are led by the top scorer in the CAA, redshirt sophomore Kionna Jeter, who is averaging 17.8 points per game.