Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.
By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru
PHILADELPHIA – Hours after No. 11 Syracuse reached an all-time high in the Associated Press women’s basketball poll, the NCAA national runnersup to Connecticut last April were felled by Meghan’s Comet, a deadly long-range three-point shot from the right side Monday night with nine seconds remaining that gave Drexel a stunning 62-61 upset in the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
“This is it,” Drexel coach Denise Dillon called the outcome her all-time high in terms of the 14 regular seasons of coaching the Dragons (3-1), who reigned fire all-night, especially fifth-year senior Meghan Creighton.
The graduate of Archbishop Carroll apparently saved the best for after last.
Extended into an extra winter due to an injury, Creighton made the event her personal career night, scoring personal highs of 23points, including a career-high 7 three-pointers.
The victory comes on the heels of a home-opening win over Penn State, which took down then No. 13 Tennessee on Sunday, and a competitive 73-63 loss last week at Vanderbilt.
"Very exciting, Couldn’t be happier for this group,” Dillon said. “I felt, defensively, to look at the score and hold them to 61 points was quite a task.”
That total was 30-under Syracuse’s scoring average entering the contest before the Orange (3-1) suffered their first loss of the season. With the visitors’ move several years ago out of the old Big East made the win Drexel’s first ove a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“The girls stuck to the game plan. There were some plays where a little panic was shown, especially on the offensive end, but we’ve been in this position, especially our veteran players and I thought it was great there that Sarah (Curran) didn’t panic, trying to get a two just to tie it, found Meg, who had the hot hand and pulled the trigger for that final three and that’s exciting.”
The only previous win over a ranked team was in 2010 against No. 25 James Madison, a rival in the Colonial Athletic Association, meaning there was a lot more familiarity then compared to playing Syracuse.
Of course postseason-wise in the Dillon era, there was knocking down Old Dominion’s perfect run in the CAA tournament at the semifinal stage and then beating. James Madison at James Madison the next day to win it. And there also was the WNIT title.
“The game’s a fast paced game so you don’t have much time to think,” Creighton said, recalling the winning play. “I saw (Drexel’s) Kelsi Lidge coming down the floor, I figured she was going to dri ve for the basket and hopefully my girl helps and I was just going to spot up.
“So that’ what I did and again I had the hot hand today so I caught it, I was open, you got to take the shot, so I took the shot and picked a good day to get my career high.”
Curran added 14 points to the Dragons’ attack and freshman Bailey Greenberg out of Archbishop Wood, scored 10 points.
The game was a homecoming of sorts for Brittney Sykes, the Newark, N.J., native who played on the same Philadelphia Belles AAU prime unit along with former UConn star Breanna Stewart.
She had a team-high 24 points but was one of a slew of Orangewomen who struggled at the line, shooting 8-for-18 as a team, with Sykes suffering at 0-for-4.
Syracuse shot 39 percent for the game and was out-rebounded by one 62-61.
The game was close throughout but it started to go in Syracuse’s direction, drifting to a six-point Orange lead with 2 minutes, 23 seconds left.
In those final minutes, Drexel connected at the line but layups by Greenberg and Curran closed the gap to a point with 20 seconds left.
Alexis Peterson, who was held to 14 points, was 1-2 from the line, with 18 seconds to play before Creighton nailed the game-winner on the next possession.
Then Petersen missed. Jumper as time expired.
“That was a disappointing way to end the game,” said Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman. “(Drexel) made every play they possibly could make to win the game down the stretch. We dideverything possible to lose it – technical fouls, missed assignments on defense, missing layups and missing free throws. That’s how you lose a basketball game. We wee on their home floor.
“We had ample plays to win. But give them a ton of credit.”
A day earlier George Washington first-year coach Jen Rizzotti, a former UConn star, whose Colonials play Syracuse this weekend in Florida, unwitttingly forecasted the upset.
“Will be interesting, Rizzotti said. “Drexel plays that good defense and Denise likes to play that good defense against the teams with Drexel is off until traveling to Patriot League favorite Bucknell on Sunday.
Several players from local teams won weekly conference awards on Monday. Gena Grundhoffer from Lehigh was the Patriot League Rookie of the Week and he College SportsMadness Player of the Week.
Penn State’s Teniya Page, who averaged 26.0 last week and PSU got a win over Tennessee, was named Big Ten Player of the Week while Princeton’s Bella Alarie was the Big Five rookie of the week.
Saint Joseph’s is at Penn Tuesday night in a Big Five showdown that is the Quakers’ first of the season in the City Series and visiting Hawks’ second. Delaware hosts Princeton and if the visiting Tigers lose both Princeton and visiting Rutgers Friday afternoon will each be 0-4.