Not only was the weather on the gloomy side this week, so were the scores that came in from quite a few of the Drexel University sports teams. Last weekend at the Christmas City Classic hosted by Lehigh University, the women’s basketball team dropped two consecutive losses to Villanova University and the University of Montana.
While the outcomes weren’t ideal, the Dragons hung tough in both match-ups, only losing by 12 in the first game of the weekend and eight in the second.
In their opening play for the weekend Nov. 28, the Dragons met with the Wildcats from Villanova. The Dragons got off to a quick start, with senior Rachel Pearson hitting a trey to give the Dragons the first bucket of the game less than 30 seconds into play. The Dragons held their lead until there were around two minutes to remain in the first quarter. However, they wouldn’t get the lead back for the rest of the game.
The Wildcat offense was dominated by an impressive performance from Caroline Coyer, who added 22 points for Villanova—17 of which came in the second half.
Despite the fact that the Dragons didn’t go up again for the rest of the game, it wasn’t for lack of trying. They outscored Villanova in the third period, putting themselves in a good position to fight their way to a comeback. It was almost in reach, as the Dragons were only down four with about a minute and a half to go. However, the stellar free throw shooting of the Wildcats (who went over 85 percent from the line) and the slight foul trouble of the Drexel team helped Villanova maintain their lead and grab the win.
Important contributions for the Dragons came from Pearson, who went a perfect three for three from behind the arc, totaling the day with 14 points. Also reaching double digits was Sarah Curran and Jackie Schluth, who added 13 and 10, respectively.
Alexis Smith was also a key factor in keeping Drexel in the game. She netted 11 points and ripped down 9 rebounds.
After their contest with Villanova, the Dragons got right back to work Sunday, taking on another talented team in Montana.
Again, while the Dragons trailed going into the second half (after shooting just 24 percent from the field in the first twenty minutes of play), they didn’t let the Grizzlies go without a fight. The two teams actually tied in points during the second half, making the Dragon’s first half setback the cause for the loss. Drexel turned up the offense, improving to a floor percentage of just over 37 in the second half.
The biggest weapon against Drexel was Montana’s Kayleigh Valley, who didn’t miss a minute of play, and was responsible for half of Montana’s 58 total points—a whopping 29.
Drexel got another strong performance from Curran, who added 13 points in the effort. Smith also repeated with another good game, with eight points, six assists, and four steals. Her weekend performance earned her a place on the All-Tournament Team.
Finally, the Dragons got key contributions from guard Meghan Creighton. Her seven assists in the matchup with Montana took her into top-10 record territory, as she now has 285 assists in 81 career games. She also netted 9 points on the day.
The two losses put the Dragons at 2-3 overall. While it might not seem great, it’s not all that bad either, given that each of the two teams they faced last weekend were pretty talented, right on the edge of big rankings.
However, before the Colonial Athletic Association play begins, it’s likely not going to get much easier for Drexel, as they have a tough schedule ahead of them in for the remainder of December. The Dragons hosted a powerhouse from Vanderbilt University Dec. 3. They’ll also face off with Philadelphia rivals Saint Joseph’s University and the University of Pennsylvania within the coming weeks, and tenacious teams from Hampton University and Quinnipiac University: all tough matchups. Finally, they’ll hit the road to see a top-25-ranked Syracuse University on December 29th, which will also be a test.
With luck, the strength of their out of conference schedule will help to prepare the Dragons for the CAA regular season—and put them in a position to make another run to the CAA playoffs.