It’s never easy to a get a win on the road, but when it happens, it’s a big deal — especially when conference spots are being battled for. Some would even venture to say it’s huge.
Despite a loss in Virginia at James Madison University, the Drexel University women’s basketball team has been incredibly successful in their last stint on the road, picking up two out of three key wins versus Colonial Athletic Association competitors The College of William & Mary and Hofstra University.
In the Jan. 15 game at William & Mary, the Dragons pulled out a nail-biter down the stretch. In the end, they only picked up the win by a three-point margin, topping the Tribe 49-46.
“I was pleased to pull the win and the game out,” head coach Denise Dillon said of the game versus The Tribe. “It got tight down the stretch … [so] I was pleased with that outcome. We showed some growth there,” Dillon commented, referencing the team’s loss in a tight game against Hofstra earlier this month.
Against William & Mary, Drexel saw huge contributions from Jamila Thompson, who has surfaced as a huge asset for the Dragons this year in her senior season. In Williamsburg, Virginia, her numbers nearly reached that of a triple-double, as she added 11 rebounds, 12 assists and six points to help lead the team to victory.
“[Jamila] has been doing exactly what we look for out of a senior,” Dillon noted. “She’s willing to do whatever it takes,” she continued. “[Her] 12 assists show [her] understanding within our offense.”
As the season continues, the Dragons are looking to improve upon their offensive execution, which had been a little cold before their last game, particularly during the second half of their contests. Dillon is hopeful about the improvements the team has been making.
“It looks a little better, a little more crisp,” she said about the team’s offense.
After the win at William & Mary, the team traveled to Harrisonburg, Virginia Jan. 18 to take on current CAA leader James Madison University.
While the Dragons fell to the Dukes by 15 in a 66-51 loss, there were still big accomplishments to note. The Dragons outrebounded JMU, the leading rebounders in the conference, 40-38. Drexel actually fought toe-to-toe with the Dukes in the second period, with JMU only outscoring the Dragons by 5 in the second half.
The only Dragon to reach double digits was junior Rachel Pearson, who added 10 points in the effort. Carrie Alexander and Florence Ouattara added eight each, but it wasn’t enough to keep Drexel in the game.
Coming off the loss at James Madison, getting another win in the books was important — especially against a Hofstra team that handed Drexel their only loss at home this season, a loss that’s been sitting with the team.
Going into the game, Dillon remarked that the game at Hofstra would be “huge,” mostly because Hofstra, another one of the most successful teams in the CAA this year, is also competing for a top spot within the conference.
The game was huge — a huge success.
The Dragons came out hot in the first half Jan. 22, out-scoring the Pride 33-23. Forwards Sarah Curran and Thompson added 10 and nine points, respectively, in the first half alone. Drexel also hit three shots from behind the three-point line to keep the offense moving in the first period.
The first half lead proved important, as the Pride did out-score the Dragons narrowly in the second half. However, it wasn’t enough for Hofstra to fight their way back.
By the end of the game, the Dragons would, for the first time this season, have four players in double digits, with a career-best 15 from Thompson, 14 from Curran, 10 from Rachel Pearson, and a season-high 16 from sophomore Alexis Smith, to take the Dragons to a 63-56 win on the road in Hempstead, New York.
Drexel, 11-7 for the season overall, is now tied for second place in the CAA with Hofstra at 5-2.
The Dragons return to their home court at the Daskalakis Athletic Center this weekend in a homecoming game match against rival the University of Delaware Blue Hens.
Their continued success in tight matchups and on the road will be important in order to maintain a top spot before playoffs begin.
“There’s still a lot of games left,” Dillon said.