February 22, 2013 by Brian PalmerHeading into the final six games of their regular season, the Drexel women’s basketball team is looking to head into the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament as a team playing its best basketball when it matters the most. Unfortunately for head coach Denise Dillon and her Dragons, they received some unfortunate news after their loss on the road Feb. 14 against Hofstra University. Senior forward Nicki Jones is out for the rest of the season due to an injury.
Beginning the first of three consecutive home games, Dillon had a different lineup for the first time in conference play. Senior guard Renee Johnson-Allen was inserted into the lineup in the game against the University of North Carolina Wilmington at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. The first half was adjustment for the Dragons, as they struggled to find their offensive rhythm, which is to be expected when inserting a new starter into the lineup. Drexel led by one point at the end of the first half 18-17. However, in the second half, fellow seniors Taylor Wootton and Hollie Mershon led the charge for the Dragons as they pulled away from the Seahawks. Wootton scored 19 of her 25 points in the second half. Coming into her senior season, Wootton had only one career 20-point game. This season she has increased that total to six. She also had five steals against UNCW. Mershon added 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Her four assists gave her 302 for her career. She is the ninth player in Drexel women’s basketball history to have over 300 assists.
Dillon was impressed with her team’s ability to battle through their struggles.
“I was impressed with our commitment to playing 40 minutes and grinding out even though our offense wasn’t at our best,” Dillon said.
Despite the loss of Jones, Dillon still believes her team can compete and reach its ultimate goal of winning the CAA Championship.
“We believe we are a team that can beat everyone. The other players are more capable of making things happen,” she said of having other players step up.
Coming off the victory against UNCW, the Dragons faced George Mason University at the DAC,defeating the Patriots 57-46. This marked the second straight victory for the Dragons at home. Mershon led the charge for Dragons, scoring 25 points. Mershon was on fire from the start of the game, scoring 18 points in the first half. Mershon’s hot first half allowed the Dragons to build a 33-19 first-half lead that they wouldn’t relinquish. Along with Mershon’s 25, six other Dragons scored in the game. Wootton chipped in eight points, and freshman Meghan Creighton and junior Fiona Flanagan had six points each. While the Patriots tried to mount a second-half comeback, they couldn’t crack the Dragons’ excellent team defense, which forced 13 turnovers. The defense was led by Johnson-Allen, who started her second consecutive game. She held opposing point guard Rahneeka Saunders to only four points.
Two out of their three games in this homestand have resulted in victories, and Dillon couldn’t stress the importance of the homestand enough.
“It’s a perfect time for us to have these home games, rebounding from losing one of your key starters. We need to finish on a stretch. These are the games we have to take care of,” Dillon said.
The goal for the Dragons during these last few games is to position themselves as a top-three seed for the upcoming CAA Tournament. The upcoming game against The College of William & Mary will be another step in their push toward the postseason.