The below is written by Contributor, and great Friend of the Blog, Pamitha Weerasinghe.
Needing a win to secure the second seed in the upcoming CAA tournament, the Drexel Dragons Women’s Basketball Team rose to the occasion, leaving the Towson Tigers with a sour taste on senior night and, putting the rest of the conference on notice. Drexel has now won eight of their last eleven games and is riding a wave of momentum after a resounding victory against a tough but over-matched Towson squad.
Drexel’s suffocating defense has been a hallmark for the team under Head Coach Denise Dillon, and tonight was no exception. Effort on the defensive glass fueled the Dragons offense, and their impressive cadre of shooters delivered on seemingly every open shot.
“We always zone in on the importance of playing defense,” said Dillon after the game. “We tell our players, if you’re willing to be defensive minded and willing to do what’s necessary you’re going to get out on the floor. We’ve challenged them with different tests this year so they could become more defensive minded [and] they’ve just become a better team all around and that is typically on the defensive end that carries to the offensive end.”
The offense did not disappoint, as Drexel never trailed in the game, and used a 20-3 point advantage in the second quarter to pull away from the Tigers, eliminating any doubt as to the final outcome. Eleven players scored for Drexel, with Sarah Curran, Meghan Creighton, and Alexis Smith leading the way with double digit point totals.
It was also a record setting night for Curran and Creighton. Junior Forward Sarah Curran led the team with 13 points, and now sits alone as the 18th all-time scorer in program history, and team captain Meghan Creighton, the squad's floor general, is now second all time in assists. Redshirt-junior Jessica Pellechio also reached a personal milestone, scoring 800 points in her career.
The game was also an illustration of how leadership can come from many places on a team, as long as players effectively communicate with one another on the floor. “We always felt that our seniors, Jackie Schluth, Rachel Pearson, Carrie Alexander, [are] leaders by example,” said Dillon. “Then you have Meghan Creighton, who is our Captain, [our] floor general, and when she’s talking it offers confidence to others. I think Sarah Curran has [also] taken on that role. But we always say Lexie Smith, when she’s talking her energy is contagious.”
Dillon also spoke to the way her team responded in a game they needed to control their postseason run. “They came into this game knowing we had to win to get that two spot. To get that two spot you put yourself in the best position to get to the final game. Now it is one game at a time, and they know it’s one and done, but they have shown when adversity hits, we’ve climbed back and done some things. But then when they take control of the situation, do whatever is necessary, we dictate our future.”
That future looks very bright. Dillon is one of the few coaches in the country who knows what it takes to build a consistent championship contender. What she saw from her team tonight is the coalescence of winning ingredients, which should concern other coaches in the CAA. “The players were repeating the defense, they were talking on screens, they were saying ‘I’ve got the rebound,’ they were communicating through the entire possession and that gives you energy right there,” said Dillon. “When you have understanding, it leads to confidence, and that’s what they are starting to get. Some of them had it, but as a team collectively we’re getting it. With the understanding comes confidence, and the result speaks for itself after today’s game.”
Strong and consistent play in the back half of their schedule should provide a great deal of confidence to this Drexel squad who appear to be primed for a championship run. “Obviously our expectation is to win the championship. If that’s the goal, which this team is convincing me that it is their goal, they’re proving that they’re now willing to do what it takes to make that happen,” says Dillon.