W. basketball ties JMU for second place in CAA

Woods

After suffering a crushing 75-65 road loss to Elon University Jan. 15, the Drexel University women’s basketball team won back-to-back games at home against College of Charleston Jan. 20 and Hofstra University Jan. 22.

With their back-to-back victories, the Dragons improved to 5-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association, which has them tied for second with James Madison University (5-2) and trailing Elon (6-1) by just one game.

Freshman Bailey Greenberg was named CAA rookie of the week, averaging 9.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in her two starts for Drexel.

In their most recent victory, the Dragons cruised past Hofstra with a 65-43 win at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Senior Sarah Curran led the way for Drexel, scoring 17 points off of seven of 12 shooting from the floor, and three of four shooting from deep. She also pulled down seven rebounds in her 36 minutes of play.

Curran got off to a hot start and scored the first seven points of the game for the Dragons, showing her range by making a layup, hitting a jumper in the paint and draining a three-pointer. She hit another three in the closing minute of the first quarter, finishing the frame with 10 points.

After trailing Hofstra 8-7 with 3:17 remaining in the first quarter, Drexel went on a 9-2 run to end the period and take control of the game. Curran hit another big three-pointer at the 6:49 lead in the second quarter to increase Drexel’s lead to 21-13. Greenberg made a layup on the Dragons’ next possession to give them their first double digit lead of the game.

After Hofstra’s Aleana Leon hit a jump shot to make the score 23-15, Greenberg responded with another layup to once again push the Dragons’ lead to double figures. Greenberg scored again on Drexel’s ensuing possession, giving her six points in just over two minutes.

Senior Meghan Creighton hit a three-pointer at the 3:10 mark in the second quarter, giving Drexel a 30-18 lead and its third double digit advantage of the game. From that point on, Drexel dominated Hofstra and didn’t allow the Pride to cut their lead under 12 for the rest of the game.

Drexel took a 35-21 into halftime, with Curran and Greenberg leading the Dragons in points, having scored 13 and eight respectively.

The Dragons continued to dominate Hofstra in the second half as their lead got up to as many as 25 points. Creighton had a strong second half, scoring eight points on three of four shooting from the field and two of three shooting from beyond the arc. She also dished out three assists and picked up two steals in the half.

Junior Kelsi Lidge played showstopping defense, particularly in the second half where she  recorded five steals in 13 minutes. She finished the game with six total steals.

Junior Sara Woods and sophomore Tereza Kracikova were also impressive in the second half where both scored seven points.

With several role players contributing at a high level, Drexel outscored Hofstra 30-22 in the second half and cruised to a 65-43 victory. For the game, the Dragons held the Pride to just 28.3 percent shooting from the field and forced them to commit 23 turnovers.

As it has been through head coach Denise Dillon’s tenure, Drexel’s defense has arguably been the biggest reason for the team’s success this season. Currently, the Dragons have the best scoring defense in the CAA, giving up an average of just 54.1 points per game.

Balanced scoring has also been a factor. With Curran getting 17, Greenberg finishing with 12 and Creighton reaching 11, their game against Hofstra was the 11th for the Dragons this season in which at least three scorers reached 10 points, and in those contests Drexel has a perfect 11-0 record.

Another interesting stat to note is Meghan Creighton’s three-point field goal percentage this season. Creighton finished the game against Hofstra by shooting three of six from downtown, which, percentage wise, was barely above her shot efficiency for the season.

Through 18 games, Creighton is shooting an astronomical 49 percent from three, which not only leads the CAA by a wide margin, but also has her ranked as the fifth most efficient long distance shooter in all of Division I women’s basketball. Kamile Nacickaite set the Drexel single season record in 2010-2011 for three-point percent, making 47.8 percent of her looks from long range. The way she’s shooting right now, Creighton has a chance to rewrite the Drexel record book.

Creighton was also effective from three point range in Drexel’s 70-57 win over College of Charleston Jan. 20. In that contest, Creighton made three of five triples to score a team second high of nine points.

However, Drexel’s win against the Cougars was anything but a one person show on offense. It was actually the exact opposite as eight different Dragons, including Curran, Creighton, Greenberg, senior Jessica Pellechio, Lidge, Woods, Kracikova and freshman Aubree Brown finished the game with at least seven points.

The Cougars hung in with the Dragons during the first two frames, with the score at halftime 31-26 in favor of Drexel. However, Drexel took control of the game in the third quarter when it was able to increase its lead to as many as 12 points.

In the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, the Cougars were able to cut Drexel’s lead to eight, but Creighton responded with a three at the 8:22 mark to push the Dragons’ lead back to 11. From that point on, the Cougars were unable to come within single digits of the Dragons and Drexel pulled away for a 70-57 win.

The Dragons will look to capitalize on the momentum of their back-to-back wins as they travel to Virginia to take on James Madison University Jan. 27. Drexel has not beaten JMU since the CAA semifinals game March 16, 2013. Now, more than ever, the Dragons would like to break that streak, as a victory against the Dukes would give Drexel sole possession of second place in the CAA.