RELEASE FROM DREXEL UNIVERSITY
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. – After a record-setting defensive performance in the first half, the Drexel women’s basketball team withstood a late charge by sixth-seeded VCU to advance to the CAA semifinals with a 65-61 victory at the Show Place Arena on Friday night. Kamile Nacickaite led all scorers with 25 points, one of four Dragons to reach double figures.
The Dragons have thrived on the defensive end all season, leading the CAA in scoring defense heading into the tournament. That showed early on, as Drexel held the Rams scoreless for a 7:59 stretch in the middle of the first half, extending their lead from 10-8 with 13:06 to play to 25-10 with 5:07 remaining. VCU knocked down two free throws to end the drought. The field goal stretch would extend a full 9:14 of gametime before a short jumper by Robyn Parks cut the Dragons’ lead to 27-12.
Drexel kept the Rams right there for the rest of the stanza, taking a 30-12 lead into halftime. VCU’s 12 points marked the lowest by a Drexel opponent in any half this year, and tied the CAA record for the lowest point total in a half at the CAA Tournament. VCU turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, and shot just 19.0 percent from the floor.
The Dragons maintained a double-digit lead for most of the second half, leading by as many as 22 points early in the period. VCU cut into that and got it down to 11 points midway through the period, but Drexel rebuild the advantage and held a 53-40 lead with 2:28 remaining. From there, the Rams took advantage of some Drexel turnovers and scored eight straight points in the next 1:24. Drexel pushed the margin back to eight on a pair of Tyler Hale free throws with 35 seconds to go, but the Rams kept forcing the action. They got the game down to two points with 1.1 seconds to go, but Nacickaite hit two free throws to secure the victory.
Drexel won the game with a solid showing at the free throw line, where they went 24-for-31 on the night and 22-for-28 in the second half. Nacickiate in particular was reliable at the charity stripe, hitting 12-of-14, including 11-of-12 in the second half.
In addition to their reliability at the free throw line, the Dragons won by neutralizing the Rams on the boards, one of their main goals heading into the game. Although the final rebounding margin was just two, with Drexel pulling down 32 to VCU’s 30, the Dragons held a 28-21 advantage on the board late in the game before the Rams’ frenetic comeback.