Philadelphia - Taylor Wootton knocked down two jumpers in the final two and a half minutes and Kamile Nacickaite went 4-for-4 from the line in the last 22 seconds to give Drexel (4-0) its first win over Philadelphia rival Villanova (4-2). The Dragons have now swept all four of the Philadelphia teams on their schedule this season and opened the year with four straight wins to match their best start ever as a Div. I program. Jasmina Rosseel led all scorers with 18 points, including 6-for-9 shooting from long range. Rachel Roberts led the Wildcats with 14 points and six rebounds.
In a contest that saw both teams struggle through sizeable scoring droughts in the second half as the result of excellent pressure defense, Wootton's poise in the final minutes proved to be the decisive factor in Drexel's historic victory.
The Dragons used a full court trap midway through the second half to force a pair of Wildcat turnovers and carve away what had been a seven-point Villanova lead into a 50-48 advantage with two and a half minutes to play.
Hollie Mershon handled the ball at the top of the key and dribbled into a pick-and-roll with Wootton on the left side of the lane. Wootton set the screen and popped out to the left foul-line elbow, instead of rolling to the basket, as anticipated by the defense. Mershon took a dribble toward the basket then found Wootton with a pass. The sophomore forward knocked down the 14-foot shot in rhythm to knot the game at 50 points apiece with 2:28 to play.
After a defensive stand by the Dragons, spearheaded by excellent one-on-one post defense by Nacickaite on Megan Pearson, Wootton found herself with another look from the free-throw line and drilled it to put Drexel on top by two with 1:19 in the game.
Wootton made an important hustled play in the final seconds when Rosseel drove the lane, as the shot clocked ticked off its final seconds, and put up a layup that just missed. Wootton scrambled for the offensive rebound, which resulted in a Villanova player knocking it out of bounds.
The play would give Drexel the ball and allow Nacickaite to knock down two more free throws to seal the victory.
Drexel's defense was once again the driving force in a tight victory. The Dragons held Villanova to just 25 percent (6-24) shooting from the floor in the second half and under 40 percent in the game. This was no small task, as the Wildcats made 11-of-19 for 57.9 percent shooting in the first period.
The Dragons led by as much as 11 points in the first half thanks to the hot hand of Rosseel, who knocked down her first four three-point attempts. Drexel, as a team, made 7-of-8 three-pointers to start the game, and held a 27-16 advantage at the 5:57 mark in the period.
Villanova caught fire in the last three minutes, however, to close the lead to 34-33 courtesy of an 11-5 run to end the half.
Rosseel scored 12 of her 18 points in the first half on 4-for-5 shooting from deep. The Dragons shot 54.2 percent from the floor in the period and 8-for-10 from deep.
Drexel outrebounded Villanova on the game 27-25 led by Nacickaite's six boards. In addition to matching her career-high with 12 points, which she set last game against Saint Joseph's, Wootton had an excellent all-around game with four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.
With the win, Drexel matched the 4-0 start of its 2001-02 squad, which is the best opening to a season in the program's history. The 2010-11 Dragons will look to set a mark of their own next Thursday, Dec. 2 when they close out a four-game homestand against Tulsa at 7:00 p.m.