Women’s basketball heads into CAA tourney as second seed | The Triangle

Women’s basketball heads into CAA tourney as second seed

Sarah Curran dribbles by a Northeastern University defender in the Dragons' twentieth win of the season. (Photo Courtesy - Drexeldragons.com)
Sarah Curran dribbles by a Northeastern University defender in the Dragons’ twentieth win of the season. (Photo Courtesy – Drexeldragons.com)

Often in a regular college basketball season, 20 wins marks something special.

That’s just how the Drexel University women’s basketball team closed off their regular season this year, grabbing three wins in a week and going on a six game winning streak.

As head coach Denise Dillon said last week, it’s all about focus.

“It’s recognizing what we’re doing well and holding onto that and continuing to try and get better at each practice,” Dillon said.

The Dragons have done just that, capturing two keys wins at home Feb. 27 versus Elon University and March 1 against Towson University before traveling to Northeastern University March 4.

The win against Elon, a victory of just three points, was tight going down the stretch, with Drexel only leading by four at the break. Florence Ouattara carried the Dragons to halftime, scoring 10 first half points. The Dragon defense was especially on point, forcing the Phoenix to 10 first half turnovers.

Fortunately, their four-point lead going into halftime would create the tiniest amount of breathing room for the Dragons. In the second half, Elon would outscore Drexel by one, not going down without a fight. Important contributions in the second half came from Sarah Curran and Rachel Pearson, who added 13 and eight respectively (17 and 12 for the game total).

Despite the fact that they lost the half by one, the Dragons shot impressively from the field and from three, going 52.65 percent from the floor and 60 percent from beyond the arc. The final score was 54-51, and it wasn’t just a win for the team — it was the win necessary in order to clinch a Top 3 ranking within Colonial Athletic Association standings and an automatic playoff spot, which is a goal the Dragons have been working towards all season.

While the Dragons clinched the third seed in the CAA tournament in their first game at home this week, their last game was important too — a celebration of their seniors.

On March 1 against Towson, the team celebrated senior forward starters Jamila Thompson and Jackie Schluth, each of whom have contributed significantly for the Dragons this season. Thompson averaged six and a half points per game, and Schluth averaged eight. The two also lead the team in rebounding this season, with a total of 133 and 134 rebounds on the season, respectively.

Fittingly, both seniors had a big impact on the game. Schluth scored 10 points and added five rebounds, and Thompson added seven points and six assists. All scores were led by junior guard Pearson, who added 15 points in her effort. All of her points came from behind the arc as she hit five shots from three-point range.

Similarly to many a game this season, the Dragons led big going into halftime, up on the Tigers 30-14 due to the team’s stifling defense. However, there was a momentum shift in the second half. Towson came back hard, outscoring Drexel 31-20. However, their first half lead was enough for the Dragons to pull out a win, with a final score of 50-45.

The win wasn’t just sweet for the seniors, it was sweet for the whole team, as adding another win guaranteed that the Dragons would be the second seed in the CAA tournament.

Finally, the team hit the road March 4 and headed to Boston to take on Northeastern for their last regular season game. In an improvement from the last two games, Drexel controlled the game in both halves, defeating Northeastern 58-42. After going down by five points early in the game, Drexel went on an eight-point run and had the lead for the remainder of the game.

Sarah Curran and Alexis Smith were the main contributors for the game, adding 17 and 16 points apiece. However, the game was a balanced effort, with nine Dragons seeing minutes. Thompson also added eight points and six rebounds.

As noted, Drexel has earned the second spot in the CAA tournament, in which all 10 teams have the chance to compete for the title. The quarterfinal round of the tournament begins Friday, March 13, but first, the bottom four teams will compete in a play-in round to determine who makes the top eight.

Drexel will play the winner of the University of Delaware versus Northeastern University play-in game March 13 at 5 p.m. at the Show Place Arena in Upper Malboro, Maryland.