PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/23/2018 – The importance of this game was simply this. The Dukes of James Madison held first place in the CAA by a game over the Drexel Dragons. The winner would be in a good position to earn the top seed in the league tournament, which would be played here at the DAC. The place where the Dragons are undefeated.
Drexel still is undefeated at home and tied for first place winning a 73 – 71 double overtime thriller over James Madison. This game was in doubt from the fourth quarter to the horn sounding to end the game as the Dukes had a chance to tie, but missed.
“We told the girls it was going to be a game of possessions and it was a game of possessions,” said Drexel Coach Denise Dillon. “We didn’t expect it to go two overtimes. I was proud of the resilience our team showed, and staying on point with what needed to be done. This is a big team win for the program.”
Drexel was led by sophomore guard Aubree Brown who scored a career-high 26 points and added 6 steals and 6 assists. Brown would score 16 of the last 24 Dragons points. Her follow up with 4:16 to play in the fourth quarter tied the game at 51 and started her run of points.
Each point and each possession was important as the largest lead a majority of the time in the last 18 minutes was three points.
“We were prepared,” Brown said. “We practice possessions. We were very ready for that.”
Knowing what to do was important as the Dragons were forced to play the most of the second overtime without senior Kelsi Lidge who fouled out at the 4:33 mark.
In the second overtime Drexel took a 69 – 63 lead with 1:04 on the clock on free throws by Brown. The lead would expand to 7 on a free throw by Megan Marecic two seconds later. Over the last half minute James Madison converted two three-pointers and had a last chance off a steal, but Kamiah Smalls, Philadelphia native and Neumann-Goretti grad, missed a shot as time ran out. Smalls scored 14 points for JMU who also got 14 from Devon Merritt.
“You can never give a team like James Madison a last look at the basket, and we did,” said Dillon. “Lesson learned. We still found a way to come up with a huge win.”
Defensively the Dragons forced 18 turnovers by the Dukes and had a 22 – 3 edge in points off turnovers.
“They were on the same page with knowing what needed to be done,” Dillon said about the team defense. “We haven’t found ourselves in too many games like this, but there is a lot to clean up.”
Forward Sara Woods added 17 points for Drexel and a team-best 7 rebounds.
There were 45 fouls called in the game. The Dragons made 21 of 32 free throws while the Dukes were good on 16 of 25 from the line.
Drexel improves to 21 – 6 for the season and are 13 – 2 in the CAA, tied in the loss column with James Madison who is 18 – 9 and 14 – 2 in conference.
Written By: Glenn Papazian