Drexel pulled off a huge win against Virginia Commonwealth University Jan. 26 after falling to the University of Delaware Blue Hens just days prior.
The Dragons fought a tough battle against the No. 16 Blue Hens Jan. 16 but unfortunately came up short. The 60-49 defeat took place at the Bob Carpenter Center in front of a sold-out crowd. Among the fans was Vice President Joe Biden, who happens to be a former Delaware graduate. No pressure, right?
From the start, the cards seemed to be stacked against Drexel — with a packed crowd of Delaware fans and Colonial Athletic Association preseason Player of the Year Elena Delle Donne on their roster, the Blue Hens were in control. Yet the Dragons didn’t give up — in fact, at times throughout the game, Drexel gave them a run for their money.
The Blue Hens came off the bench with guns blazing. They quickly went on a 10—0 run led by Lauren Carra within the first five minutes of play.
Amid a start of constant missed shots and turnovers, Marisa Crane broke her team’s shooting dry spell by hitting a three-pointer.
Seeing as Delaware and Drexel are the top two defenses in the CAA, both teams were guarding the glass and standing their ground as the game progressed. In fact, the Dragons would finish the contest outrebounding the Blue Hens 41-36.
Within the last 10 minutes of the half, Delaware had a hefty 20-10 lead. In an effort to tighten the score, Kamile Nacickaite hit a jumper and catalyzed a 6-0 run for the Dragons.
After much back-and-forth shooting from both teams, Tyler Hale hit a layup and brought her team within just two points of the Hens at 20-22 with just over two minutes left in the half. This would prove to be as close as the Dragons would get to Delaware for the duration of the game.
Delle Donne ended the half with a jumper, sending both teams to the locker rooms with a score of 24-20.
After halftime, the Blue Hens picked up where they left off. Within just five minutes the Blue Hens took a nine-point lead at 33-24.
Even after that resounding start, slowly but surely, the Dragons clawed their way back into the game. With key points made by Taylor Wootton, Hale, Nacickaite and Mershon, who hit a big three-pointer, Drexel was back in the game, trailing only by three points at 36-33 with just over 10 minutes left.
For the duration, the Blue Hens would continue hold close to a 10-point lead, finishing the game 60-49, ending the Dragons’ 4-game winning streak and giving them their second conference loss of the season.
Although the Dragons came up short against the Blue Hens, they pulled out a huge 47-41 win against VCU on Ram turf. This contest was the 19th meeting between the two conference rivals and the 8th win for the Dragons, bringing their record against VCU to 8-11 all-time.
This game not only provided the Dragons with a necessary ego boost after a tough loss against Delaware, but more importantly, it improved Drexel’s record to 6-2, tying them for second place in the CAA with Hofstra University and James Madison University.
That said, the matchup was not easy, seeing as Drexel was facing two preseason First Team All-CAA players in Courtney Hurt and Andrea Barbour — but the Dragons were prepared. The team knew that tight defense was essential to stop the duo.
“VCU has tough players, and we focused on them and tried to make other players make big plays,” Nacickaite said. “We were focusing on Courtney Hurt because she averages 22 points a game, so we didn’t let her get as many points, and we did that well.”
The Dragons accomplished that goal by holding Hurt to a mere nine points.
With that said, the win was anything but an easy accomplishment. The Dragons were only shooting 31.5 percent from the field, keeping the score extremely tight throughout the contest.
Drexel finished the half just two points above the Rams at 21-19.
Head coach Denise Dillon said that she laid into her players during halftime to get them motivated and ready to pull out a victory. Whatever she said must have worked because the Dragons played a strong second half.
Amid the tight contest, the Dragons surged and made things really exciting in the final moments of play. With a five-point lead with less than a minute to play, both teams were on pins and needles.
Marissa Crane was forced to go to the free-throw line and capitalized with big shots.
Fortunately for the Dragons, Hurt and Barbour failed to make last-minute attempts for points, and the Dragons walked away with a huge 47-41 win.
During the game, individual players really stepped up for the Dragons — besides the usual faces in Nacickaite, Mershon and Hale, sophomore Fiona Flanagan reached her career high of 10 points.
As Nacickaite said, “We are focusing on the team right now in practices and making sure that everybody is a scorer.”
This win gave the Dragons their fifth road victory of the year, tying their total from 2010-11. Next, the Drexel is set to face Hofstra Jan. 29 at the Daskalakis Athletic Center at 2 p.m.
As Dillon puts it, the team will enjoy its big win against VCU while still being aware of its extremely anticipated contest against Hofstra coming up in just days.