March 07, 2014 by Michael Angelina
After a brutal loss March 2, the Drexel women’s basketball team responded with a blowout victory against Towson University March 5 to head into the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.
The week began with a demoralizing 60-58 loss Sunday afternoon at Hofstra University. Drexel went from looking like they were going to escape with a tough road victory to having it taken away a few seconds later. The Dragons fell to Hofstra for their fourth loss in the last five games.
Drexel and Hofstra came in as part of a tight group of teams barely separated in the CAA. Going into the game, Drexel could have finished as high as second and as low as sixth. They played like two close teams in the first half, each knotted at 25 going into the intermission. Drexel actually overcame a five-point deficit in the final two minutes of the half to even the score.
Hofstra created immediate separation out of the break, though, going on a 10-2 run early in the second half. However, Drexel’s offense, which has been inconsistent all season long, had an answer. A pair of threes from sophomore guard Meghan Creighton and senior Fiona Flanagan, who led with 11 points, put Drexel ahead. And after a Hofstra three, freshman guard Alexis Smith put Drexel right back on top.
From there, the Pride scored eight unanswered points. As the game wound down, Drexel chipped into the deficit, and after sophomore guard Carrie Alexander’s basket, it was a one-possession ball game. A Creighton steal led to a game-tying jumper from sophomore guard Rachel Pearson, making it 58-all with less than a minute to play.
Hoftstra’s Amna Onyeuku missed the front end of a one-and-one and Drexel, with 37 seconds left, had the ball and a chance to take the lead. Flanagan received a pass on the left wing and from just inside the arc nailed what looked like the go-ahead basket. Controversy ensued, however, and the basket was waved off due to a double dribble call.
Head coach Denise Dillon called the double dribble “nonexistent.”
“I thought we ran the right play and Fiona Flanagan did a great job getting the shot up,” Dillon said.
Hofstra’s Elo Edeferioka converted a free throw on the other end of the floor for the Pride to take the lead, and after Creighton drew contact on a layup try, the referees swallowed their whistles and no call was made. For insurance, Hofstra’s Asia Jackson added another free throw and Creighton’s shot as time expired could not find the basket.
“It was disheartening,” Dillon said of the loss. “We knew it’d come to the last possession and to have it end … with the call being double dribble, which was nonexistent, it was really disheartening.”
The Dragons had one more game to play before the close of the season, and they put the unfortunate call behind them. Drexel blew out the Tigers 82-40 on Senior Night.
Wire to wire, the Dragons dominated. They topped 40 points in each half as a result of shooting an incredible 65 percent from the field.
The Dragons played their most complete game, thriving on each end of the court. They drained 10 threes and caused nearly double the turnovers they committed.
“I was really impressed,” Dillon stated. “It was our best played game of the season, from start to finish.”
Drexel was led by Alexander and senior Tory Thierolf in scoring with 14 points each. Thierolf was one of three seniors, along with Abby Redick and Flanagan, to be honored before the game as part of Senior Night.
Dillon called the trio a great representation of the program.
“It’s hard to put [their contributions] in a few words,” she said. “Their overall commitment is what stands out most. They were a great representation of what we’re all about both on and off the court.”
Wednesday’s game marked their final games as Dragons at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. The DAC Pack, Drexel’s fan group, sent them off with countless cheers in their final appearances on the court. For that, Dillon was especially appreciative.
“It’s so important, the support from one another,” she said. “They were out last night recognizing all three [seniors]. I could not be more appreciative of that.”
Though their days at the DAC are done, the seniors will lead the rest of the Dragons into the CAA tournament next weekend. The win clinched Drexel the fourth seed in the conference tournament, and they will face Hofstra, the fifth seed, March 14 at 2:30 p.m.
The blowout win has the Dragons feeling good about themselves and confident heading into the postseason.
“It was huge,” Dillon noted. “You have to feel good as a group going into the biggest game of the season. I felt they sensed it on the court. If they sense it, good things can happen.”
Dillon expects her team to be ready to go from the opening tip on Friday. The players know what’s at stake, a championship, and she would hope they come to the host site of Upper Marlboro, Md., ready to play.
“There aren’t motivational speeches that need to be made,” she explained. “They should be excited and ready to make a run, starting Friday. If you can’t get up for this, you can’t get up for any game.”