PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/12/2016 – When the top defensive team plays the top offensive team in the CAA the question is who will get the best of it. The defensive minded Drexel Dragons had the game going in their direction for most of the time. But the Dukes of James Madison and conference leading scorer Jazmon Gwathmey, who scored 13 of her 19 points in the final quarter, got their offense rolling in the fourth quarter and came away from the DAC with a 59 – 55 victory. Despite the effort it was a tough loss for Drexel.
“You put yourself in a great position against a great team on your home court,” said Drexel Coach Denise Dillon about the game that got away. “It is a game of possessions. You want it to come down the stretch and you have a chance.”
Drexel played strong defense in the first half. The Dragons held the Dukes to 9 of 25 shooting for 36%. Gwathmey was held to just two points. Meanwhile the hosts made 15 of 28 shots en route to a 36 – 24 halftime lead. However, at the end of the half JMU scored four points in the last 7 seconds to stay in contact.
“I thought it was great,” Dillon said about the team defense in the first half. “We set the tempo. I was not pleased with the very end. We were up and gave them four quick points. I felt that we took our foot off the gas and that gave them momentum going into the second half.”
The story changed in the third quarter as James Madison held Drexel to 8 points. However, Drexel still played hard on defense and held on to the lead going into the fourth quarter at 44 – 41.
“It was a good defensive effort when we weren’t scoring,” Dillon said. “There were games in the past where we let up defensively when our offense was struggling.”
The lead changed hands as JMU made 5 consecutive shots while Drexel struggled being held to 2 of 8 field goals in six minutes of the final period. After Drexel fell behind Sarah Curran tied the game at 53 with 1:24 to play. After Drexel was assessed a technical foul Gwathmey made both free throws and swished a three-pointer on the next possession to give James Madison a lead that Drexel could not overcome. For the quarter JMU made 7 of 12 form the floor.
“We had lapses in understanding,” Dillon said. “Gwathmey was going to get the ball not matter what. They did just that. When she hit that three we were indecisive about who was guarding her.”
Curran led Drexel with the second double-double of her career posting 22 points and 11 rebounds. Foward Jackie Schluth scored a season-high 14 points making 7 of 10 from the floor. Meghan Creighton handed out 4 assists.
Angela Mickens scored 15 points for the Dukes while dishing out 4 assists. Forward Da’Lishia Griffin pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds.
Drexel fell out of a second place tie in the CAA dropping to 8 – 4 in conference. James Madison solidified their first place standing improving to 9 – 1 in the league. It will be a quick turn around for the Dragons as the Seawolves of UNCW visit on Sunday.
Written By: Glenn Papazian