After a strong start to the season, the Drexel University women’s basketball team has stumbled to start Colonial Athletic Association conference play, losing two home games — a heartbreaker to the Towson University Tigers Jan. 4, 55-54, and falling to the James Madison University Dukes Jan. 6, 51-35. The pair of losses brings the team’s record to 8-5 on the season with a 0-2 mark in conference play.
In the conference opener at the Daskalakis Athletic Center, the Tigers got off to a fast start. Buckets by junior Nukiya Mayo, redshirt sophomore Kionna Jeter and redshirt junior Qierra Murray put Drexel in a early 6-0 hole, forcing a team timeout.
Out of the stoppage, Drexel went on a 6-0 run with scoring from juniors Bailey Greenberg, Niki Metzel and Aubree Brown that knotted the game up. The teams then traded points and headed into the second quarter tied at 10.
In the second quarter, Drexel’s defense, ranked first in the country in total scoring, surrendered only two points. The Dragons forced seven Towson turnovers and held them to 1-9 in shots from the floor in the quarter. Drexel would score 13 points in the quarter, with freshman Keishana Washington and Greenberg having four points each.
The Dragons headed into the third quarter with a 23-12 lead, but the Tigers would quickly narrow the gap. The Tigers’ offense exploded in the third quarter, posting 21 points, the most Drexel has given up in a quarter this season.
The Towson offense came alive due to their success from the three. Towson was 0-6 from beyond the arc in the first half, but went 5-7 in the third quarter alone. Mayo hit three times from distance, with the last giving the Tigers a 33-32 lead. Metzel would take the lead back for Drexel with a steal and a pass to junior Ana Ferariu who had a bucket in the paint, making it 34-33 heading into the final period.
The fourth quarter featured more high scoring, with both teams trading buckets. Two buckets by Towson started the quarter and gave them a three-point advantage. Drexel then took the 38-37 lead on a pair of free throws by Washington. Washington then added a three to push the Drexel advantage to four.
The teams continued to trade the lead back and forth, eventually resulting in a 49-49 tie with 2:01 remaining in the game. Murray dished to Jeter for a fastbreak score, but a triple by Greenberg put the Dragons up by one with 36 seconds to go.
Metzel was fouled with eight seconds to go and went one of two from the line to put Drexel up 53-51. However, Jeter received an inbound pass and drove to hit a tough baseline jumper to tie the game with 3.9 seconds left. Jeter fouled sophomore guard Hannah Nihill and sent her to the stripe for two free throws with 3.3 seconds to go.
Nihill missed the first attempt but made the second to give the Dragons the one-point lead. Towson called a timeout and advanced the ball. Mayo received the inbound pass and drove the lane. The defender, Brown, fell on the drive, and Mayo hit the floater as time expired to win the game.
The win by the Tigers snapped a 19-game losing streak versus Drexel. Jeter led the game in scoring with 21, while Greenberg led Drexel with 17 points along with a game-high eight rebounds. Towson shot 40.7 percent from the field, while Drexel shot 31.7 percent on the day. The Dragons struggled mightily from beyond the arc, shooting 3-20 from three-point range, a measly 15.0 percent, while the Tigers went 6-16, good for 37.5 percent.
Coming off the heartbreak, the Dragons looked up to pick up their first conference win of the season against the Dukes.
Drexel took the lead early thanks to a 6-0 run to start the game. Metzel led the Dragons with six points in the quarter, but James Madison was able to keep up. A James Madison three by redshirt junior Jackie Benitez made the score 12-10 going into the second quarter.
The Dukes took the lead in the second quarter on a fastbreak bucket by junior Kamiah Smalls to make it 18-16. Drexel tied the game up on a Greenberg jumper, who then added a three-pointer to give the Dragons the lead. Greenberg was strong in the second quarter, posting eight points to keep the score close. A free throw by Greenberg gave the Dragons a three-point advantage heading into the break.
In the second half, the Dukes started to take control of the game. A three from Metzel kicked off the scoring for the half, pushing the Drexel lead to six. But the Dukes would take the lead back by going on a 15-4 run for the remainder of the quarter. Smalls was instrumental in the quarter, hitting two from beyond the arc to help the Dukes take the 36-31 lead.
The Dragons’ struggles continued in the fourth quarter. Drexel would only muster four points in the quarter while not scoring a single basket. The Dukes kept their run going in the period, scoring seven more unanswered points, highlighted by a three and jumper from junior Lexie Barrier, to push their advantage to 12. James Madison would push the lead to 16 with a layup by junior Devon Merritt, where the advantage would stand.
Greenberg was the high scorer for the game with 17 points. Metzel had 11 points and nine rebounds for the Dragons. The Dukes had three players who posted 12 points: Barrier, Smalls and redshirt junior Kayla Cooper-Williams. James Madison shot 36.8 percent from the field while the Dragons shot 28.6 percent. Drexel struggled from beyond the arc again, going 2-14 from three, good for 14.3 percent, while the Dukes went 5-20 from three for an even 25 percent on the day.
Coming up, the Dragons will go on the road to continue conference play. They will travel to Newark, Delaware, to take on the 5-9 University of Delaware Blue Hens Jan. 13 at 2 p.m.