Philadelphia - In a classic, low-scoring Philadelphia basketball game Drexel's defense came up in the clutch as the Dragons pulled out their third straight win to open the season, 50-47 over Saint Joseph's. With the Dragons clinging to a 48-44 and the final seconds ticking away, Drexel's pressure defense forced a Saint Joseph's shot clock violation with 11.7 seconds left. From there, Jasmina Rosseel and Marisa Crane knocked down 3-of-4 free throws to hold off the Hawks. Kamile Nacickaite recorded her first double-double of the season with 19 points and 10 rebounds and Taylor Wootton put in a career-best 12 points for Drexel. Kelly Cavallo led Saint Joseph's with 12 points and Michelle Baker added 10 and a game-high four assists.
The victory is Drexel's third straight to open the season, which is the team's best start since 2001-02 when the Dragons won four in a row to begin the year. The win against Saint Joseph's also gives the Dragons three wins over Philadelphia Big 5 teams for the first time in the program's history.
The Dragons shot 38.5 percent from the floor and 3-of-10 from deep while the Hawks connected on 50 percent of their shots in the second half and made 45.5 percent on the game. Drexel's defense forced 18 Saint Joseph's turnovers, led by three steals apiece from Wootton, Nacickaite and Rosseel.
On a night in which the Dragons' offense sputtered early, Drexel would rely on its team defense to climb back into the game. The Dragons trailed by as much as nine points, 30-21, early in the second half, but were able to mount a 12-2 run keyed by a pair of forced shot clock violations and a steal in the post by Taylor Wootton. Highlighting the spurt was a Nacickaite three-pointer banked in from the top of the arc that snapped a 39-39 tie and dispersed the Hawks' momentum with 4:41 to play.
A pair of layups by Nacickaite and Rosseel followed the fortuitous three-pointer and the Dragons suddenly held a seven-point advantage with 1:58 to play. The Hawks would trim the Drexel lead to 47-44 on a free throw by Shelby Smith and a layup by Cavallo. Saint Joseph's then began fouling to stop the clock.
Marisa Crane made one of two free-throws with :42.6 on the clock to make it 48-44. On the ensuing defensive set for Drexel, sophomore Renee Johnson-Allen smothered her opponent near the end of the shot clock forcing an errant shot as the clock expired.
Rosseel knocked down two free throws on the next possession and Saint Joseph's answered with an Erin Shields three-pointer from well beyond the three-point line. The Shields' heave made it a 49-47 game with under two seconds left. A quick foul from the Hawks put Crane on the line again, where she knocked down the first of two free throws to give Drexel its final margin of victory.
Drexel cooled off after opening 10-3 lead to start the game. The Dragons shot just 30 percent in the opening stanza and trailed 21-16 at halftime after a late layup by Cavallo. Nacickaite had eight points and seven boards at the break, but the rest of the team combined to score just eight points themselves. The Dragons also turned the ball over 10 times in the half, resulting in a number of additional opportunities for the Hawks.