Womhoops Guru

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.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Drexel Finishes Delaware Sweep In Overtime To Claim CAA 3rd Seed

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – When it comes to Drexel’s longest rivalry in Delaware and vice versa for the Blue Hens, the label “storied,” is certainly applicable.

They’ve had classics first in their days up north in the America East and several other pre AEC configurations and the two schools didn’t lose that tradition once they moved to the Colonial Athletic Association.

Each has had a marquee star dominate and help win dramatic confrontations in Drexel’s Gabriela Marginean followed by Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne.

And the great thing is the long-standing friendship between Delaware coach Tina Martin and Drexel coach Denise Dillon who only suspend it during the two 40-minutes their teams battle each other and sometimes another 40 in the CAA tournament with titles on the line.

On Sunday afternoon in the second meeting of the season they had to keep a halt a few minutes beyond those parameters after a jump shot from Delaware’s Hannah Jardine with 13 seconds left in regulation sent the game tied 44-44 into overtime here at the Dragons’ Daskalakis Athletic Center.

What Drexel didn’t achieve in shooting from the field in overtime, the Dragons more than compensated over the extra five minutes at the line as freshman Bailey Greenberg, Sarah Curran, Kelsi Lidge, and Jessica Pellechio combined to shoot 7-for-8 on attempted free throws to give the Dragons a 53-49 victory and a clinch of third seed in next month’s CAA tournament at James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va.

Erika Brown had all five of the Blue Hens’ points in the extra period off an old fashioned three-point play and a layup.

Delaware (14-12, 8-7 CAA), which has lost four of the Blue Hens’ last five, held its two-game lead in fourth place despite the loss, since William & Mary and Charleston lost to the front-running duo of Elon and James Madison.

“We found a way to win today, that’s what it came down to,” Dillon said afterwards. “It definitely wasn’t one of our pretty games.

“A month or so back we would have ended up losing, so I was pleased with the effort in the second half to pick it up on defense. I thought Jess played a pretty good game. That was nice. I thought she was under control but other than that it was piece by piece to put some pieces together and figure it out.”

Typical of most games in the series, the action featured nine ties and nine lead changes.

“Down there we had a great first half,” Dillon said of the season sweep by Drexel (20-6, 11-4), “but it still became a 10-point game.”

Drexel won that game 54-44 at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark after holding a 39-22 lead at the half.

“Then here you knew they would make adjustments and they did. I hoped we would make some outside shots to start just to get the floor open.

“It’s all about how you finish and controlling your own destiny. We couldn’t give this one away, even though we weren’t playing well.”

It's the first time in six seasons Drexel has won a game extended to an extra period after losing six straight overtime encounters.

It’s also the sixth time and fourth under Dillon that the Dragons have reached the 20-win mark on the season. It’s the fourth they reached 20 before conference tourney action and they have three games left to tie or pass the regular season program record of 21 triumphs.

Pellechio was the only Drexel player scoring in double figures with 23 points while Brown had 21 for Delaware and Nicole Enabosi grabbed 11 rebounds.

“We had opportunities but we didn’t capitalize when we needed to,” Delaware’s Martin said. “We had shots and layups that just didn’t convert. It’s frustrating, but I’m proud of this team’s effort.

“We’re playing extremely hard and it’s disappointing not to finish this one out. We definitely didn’t lose because of lack of effort. This was a great game and it’s a shame someone had to lose.

Drexel, two games behind CAA co-leaders James Madison and Elon, hosts JMU Friday night at 7, which is also senior night before finishing on the road at Hofstra and William & Mary.

The Dragons likely would land a home game opener if they are part of the WNIT field but until a CAA tourney winner is claimed, they remain through that route in the hunt for the NCAA field, but are likely out of the mix for an at-large slot.

Delaware hosts Elon Friday night so both the Blue Hens and Dragons that night can affect the top of the standings in playing the conference co-leaders. Delaware finishes at College of Charleston and hosting Towson.

As for the CAA co-leaders, tied record-wise in first place, Elon at home beat William & Mary 70-57 while James Madison won at Charleston 84-78.

Drexel has lost both Elon games and one James Madison game so it is not likely, barring upset losses by the leaders, that over the closing stretch that the Dragons can finish higher than third, though in the race at the top, in a potential CAA semifinal Elon might be the better deal.

James Madison swept Elon during the season.

In the James Madison game at Charleston, key foul shots down the stretch gained the win for the Dukes (20-6, 13-2 CAA), who have won eight straight.

JMU nearly squandered an 18-point lead that existed before the break.

Though ineffective from the field the final 6:01 of the game, the Dukes went 13-for-16 on foul shooting attempts.

Precious Hall had 25 points while Amber Porter scored 18 for JMU, Lexi Barrier scored 16, and Tasia Butler scored 11 in the game at TD Arena in South Carolina.

Charleston fell to 9-17 overall and 6-9 in the CAA.

In the Elon game, the Phoenix under former North Carolina star Charlotte Smith, reached an overall mark of 21-6, the best ever in the program in which a 20-win total was reached in 2011 before Smith was hired.

“I didn’t know how we would come out today on Senior Day,” Smith said, “but it’s kind of surreal to see it all come full circle for the seniors.”

Jenifer Rhodes scored 11 point, Essence Baucom scored 10, Shay Burnett scored 11, ans Malaya Johnson scored 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Bianca Boggs scored 13 for William & Mary (16-10, 6-9).

By the way before the final seeding for the tournament, as a fallout from Charleston discovering it had used a men’s ball most of the season, William and Mary will gain one win and erase one loss in the CAA as will UNCW while Charleston will have two more losses and two less wins.


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