Following a road victory over the University of North Carolina Wilmington Feb. 5, Drexel University women’s basketball team’s win streak was broken by the College of Charleston Feb. 7 in a close 46-49 loss.
In each of their four games prior to playing the Seahawks, the Dragons overcame fourth quarter deficits and won by margins no greater than four points. Finding ways to win close games has become part of Drexel’s identity this season, according to Head Coach Denise Dillon.
“They’re giving themselves a chance by playing good defense throughout the contest, and then recognizing [that] if we get that last possession, we know what we’re going to do,” Dillon said.
Drexel was put to the test again last Friday night in Wilmington, North Carolina, when the Seahawks jumped to a 22-10 lead over the Dragons just 73 seconds into the second quarter.
The Dragons were able to go on a 21-8 run in the final 8:47 of the second quarter, taking a 31-30 lead into halftime. Junior guards Alexis Smith and Meghan Creighton fueled the spree by scoring seven and 10 points, respectively.
With the momentum of the game swung in their favor by the end of the second quarter, the Dragons were on fire moving into the third quarter. Drexel scored 40 points in the second half of the game, shooting with 54.2 percent accuracy from the field and 83.3 percent accuracy from the free-throw line.
The Dragons, who had trailed UNCW by 12 points early in the second quarter, outscored the Seahawks 40-27 in the second half of the game for a 74-57 victory.
Creighton played all 40 minutes and posted eight rebounds and six assists, both highs for the game. She also managed to score a personal season high of 18 points.
Despite playing every minute of the game, Creighton had just one turnover. Creighton’s skills this season is made evident by her 3.69 assist-to-turnover ratio, the best among all women’s basketball players in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
“She is so comfortable with the ball, and teams try and pressure her, try and double her, and she is going to do everything and anything not to give that ball up,” Dillon said.
Drexel’s most impressive individual scoring performance came from junior forward Sarah Curran. Curran, held to just two points in the first half, took over the game in the second half by scoring 19 points, shooting 7-9 from the field and 3-3 from the charity stripe.
“You have a player in Sarah Curran who wants the basketball and has made some huge shots for us down the stretch,” Dillon said. “She has that scorer’s mentality,” she continued.
Guards Alexis Smith and Rachel Pearson also made solid offensive outings against UNCW, posting 11 and 10 points respectively against the Seahawks.
The win over UNCW stretched Drexel’s streak to six consecutive games; they took the court against the Charleston Cougars last Sunday in hopes of keeping the their streak alive.
Taking a 27-18 lead over the Cougars into halftime, the Dragons seemed to be on their way to the seventh victory in a row. However, things fell apart for Drexel in the second half of the game.
The Dragons went cold down the stretch, scoring just 19 points in the second half with 23.3 percent accuracy shooting from the field and only 14.3 percent accuracy shooting from behind the three-point line.
Curran, who had been the centerpiece of Drexel’s offense until the matchup against the Cougars, uncharacteristically struggled with her shot all night. After scoring just six points with 3-12 shooting in the first half, Curran was held scoreless 0-9 in the second half.
Defensive struggles also hurt the Dragons in the second half of the game, when they allowed Charleston to shoot with 55.6 percent accuracy from the field.
The Dragons had no answer for Charleston forward Jackie Luna-Castro, who picked up 15 of her 22 points in the second half of the game. Drexel could not keep Luna-Castro off the free-throw line, where she went a perfect 9-9.
As the Dragons struggled to make shots and the Cougars made more than half the shots they took in the second half, Drexel’s lead completely vanished. With just six seconds remaining in the game, the score was tied at 46-46 and Charleston had possession of the ball.
The Cougars ran a play for Luna-Castro, who hoisted up a three-point attempt with just one second remaining. Luna-Castro’s shot did not go through and Drexel forward Jackie Schluth fouled her on the attempt.
Luna-Castro hit all three of her free-throws attempts, earning Charleston a three-point lead. The Dragons were not able to land another shot attempt before the game ended, which made the final score 49-46 in favor of the Cougars.
Creighton was the only Dragon with double-digit points, scoring 10 points throughout the game.
Curran, unable to score reliably, was still able to contribute to the team’s offense with passing and positioning. Curran seven assists against the Cougars, a new season high.
By splitting their games last week, the Dragons moved their score to 12-10 for the season and 8-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Their 8-3 mark has them tied with the University of Hofstra for the second best record in the conference.
JMU currently holds a 9-1 season record and is in first place in the conference; Drexel’s game against them this Friday may heavily impact seeding for the conference tournament.
The next game on Drexel’s schedule is against James Madison University at 7 p.m. in the Daskalakis Athletic Center Feb. 12.