The Drexel University women’s basketball team fell in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game, losing to the Towson University Tigers 53-49 March 16 in a close game. This is the Dragons’ second straight loss in the conference championship final and their third in the last four seasons.
Drexel sprinted out to an early 4-0 lead after a midrange jumper from freshman Keishana Washington. Freshman Maura Hendrixson then hit a three, as she went 3-3 from deep in the first half. Junior Niki Metzel sunk two free throws to give Drexel the 16-12 advantage.
In the second quarter, the duo of redshirt sophomore Kionna Jeter and junior Nukiya Mayo lit a fire for Towson. After starting 0-5 on the day, Jeter hit two big threes. A driving layup from Mayo knotted the game up at 26. Mayo had 12 points in the first half. Another bucket gave the Tigers their first lead of the day, a 28-27 advantage they took into the break.
CAA Player of the Year junior Bailey Greenberg scored Drexel’s first five points of the third quarter to give the Dragons back the lead. A layup from Mayo and free throws from Jeter tied things up at 32. A smooth jumper from Washington gave the Dragons back the 36-34 lead, but Towson took the lead back on an open three from senior Danielle Durjan. Metzel then fought through contact and nailed a layup to make it 39-38.
Both offenses struggled to start the fourth, but sloppy play from Towson got the Dragons going. Towson turned the ball over five times on five straight possessions. Junior Aubree Brown fed to Greenberg on a behind-the-back pass to put Drexel back on top. Greenberg then drove again and hit another layup to make it 42-39.
A contested jumper from redshirt junior Q. Murray got Towson their first bucket of the quarter, but Metzel answered with a layup down low. Redshirt senior Maia Lee barreled down senior Tereza Kracikova down low, but the whistles stayed silent as Lee got the layup for Towson. Brown answered with a layup of her own, making it 46-43.
Drexel stayed patient, milking as much clock as possible on each possession. But Murray came up with a crucial interception and went coast-to-coast to cut the Drexel lead to one. After a missed three from Greenberg, Mayo hit a contested jumper to give Towson a 47-46 lead with a little under a minute to play.
A Drexel turnover gave the Tigers the ball back. Jeter held on to the ball, stepped back and swished the jumper over the outstretched hand of Metzel to give the Tigers a three-point lead with 24.7 seconds to go. Greenberg fell and lost the ball, then Mayo nailed two clutch insurance free throws. Brown hit a three with 1.6 seconds to go, but there wasn’t enough time for the Dragons to mount a comeback.
For Towson, this is their first CAA championship, and the program will go on to the NCAA tournament for the first time in their history. The Dragons’ season will continue as the team is qualified for the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. The first round of the WNIT is March 20-22. The Dragons captured the WNIT crown back in 2013 on home court at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.