PHILADELPHIA, Pa. 12/29/12 – There are games where you just have to outscore your opponent. This was the situation the Drexel Dragons women’s basketball team found themselves in against the VCU Rams at the DAC. Fortunately for Drexel they had the offense and an unexpected boost from Sophomore guard Fiona Flanagan who scored a career-high 16 points as the Dragons defeated VCU 73 – 63 on Senior Night.
“I didn’t feel our defense was as aggressive as it needed to be, but it was close enough where if we could make some shots and break away,” said Drexel Coach Denise Dillon. “It was a matter of who was going to do that, make two baskets in a row and one stop, we would come out on top. Thankfully, Fiona Flanagan was feeling it.”
The final score did not indicate the closeness of this game. There were eleven lead changes. No lead was safe. Each team would make a run that was immediately answered. Drexel had what was ultimately the secret weapon in Flanagan. VCU led 45 – 40 when Flanagan hit a three-pointer with 11:33 to play cutting the deficit to two. The Sophomore guard followed that with three more from beyond the arc giving her 12 consecutive points. When the Flanagan flurry was complete Drexel took a lead they never relinquished.
“It’s very important,” Flanagan said about her contribution. I needed to be aggressive. I just kept shooting and it was easier to keep taking more.”
“It’s huge,” Dillon said about the contribution from Flanagan. “We know what Fiona is capable of doing. She has shown it in some games. With having the number of seniors and juniors on the team, she looks to them first. She came in the second half and was getting the open looks and confidently shot them. Then her teammates started finding her. Nothing pleases me more than when they have an understanding of what is going on out there. Fiona understanding that they are not guarding me, so I have to take the shots and make them.”
When the Dragons needed their defense they got it. Leading by one with 2 minutes on the clock Drexel got a three from Senior forward and leading scorer Kamile Nacickaite to stretch the lead to 65 – 61. The Dragons ended the game scoring the next 8 points. VCU scored the last basket with 9 seconds to play.
“In the last two minutes we had the right mix out there to keep everyone in front, contest every shot, and rebound the ball,” Dillon said about the end game defense.
Drexel had three other players score in double figures. Nacickaite had a team-high 19 points in addition to a team best 7 rebounds. Junior guard Hollie Mershon scored 13 points and added 5 assists. Senior forward Tyler Hale added 11 points. Drexel made 27 of 52 shots (51.9%), and was good on 8 of 19 three-pointers. Flanagan made 6 of 9 field goals, 4 – 7 from distance. The Dragons exceeded their points per game average by 14 points.
VCU forward Courtney Hurt scored a game-high 20 points. Guard Andrea Barbour had 17 points and 6 assists while guard Carleeda Green scored 11 points. VCU made 25 of 55 shots (45.5%) and made 6 of 12 three-pointers.
Drexel finished the regular season 16 – 12, 12 – 6 in the CAA. Their next assignment is the conference tournament where the Dragons will be the third or fourth seed depending upon this evenings results. The Dragons are ready.
“Absolutely,” Dillon said. “I feel that in what we have executed and what we’ve shown on offense and defense, we are prepared for any team that we may face. Now, with the girls understanding what the coaches are looking for from them, we’re more than ready.”
Drexel sent off four seniors in their final DAC appearance. The four players Marisa Crane, Tyler Hale, Ayana Lee, and Kamile Nacickaite won the CAA title as freshman. Now they want to come full cycle for their team. Each player is a teacher and represents Drexel basketball.
“It’s amazing what they have done for this program and the success they have had,” said Dillon about her Seniors. “They came in and won a championship in the freshman year, and their goal is to leave with a championship. I told them at the beginning of the year that we’re putting it in your hands what needs to be done. It’s up to you to get these little ones to follow you. And they are doing exactly that. We are focused and find ourselves in a good position.”
The Seniors have accomplished much, but still can make a mark on the program. The opportunity lies in front of them.
Written By: Glenn Papazian