Defense Propels Women's Basketball to 58-43 Victory in CAA Opener at UNCW

WILMINGTON, N.C. – The Drexel women's basketball team got its Colonial Athletic Association season off to a strong start on Sunday, traveling to UNCW and grabbing an impressive 58-43 victory. The Dragons won with defense, holding the Seahawks to just 29.1 percent shooting from the floor, including a 1-for-18 start.

Kamile Nacickaite led the Dragons (4-2, 1-0) with 17 points. Hollie Mershon added 16, while Taylor Wootton knocked down 10. Wilmington's Karneshia Garrett led all scorers with 21.

Drexel played outstanding defense in the first half, holding the Seahawks to just 13 points on 5-of-25 shooting. The Dragons led 19-3 with just over five minutes to play in the period before UNCW (2-4, 0-1) went on an 8-0 run to wake up their offense.

As was the story in Pittsburgh, the Dragons' hot start came courtesy of Kamile Nacickaite. After scoring 13 of the team's first 15 points in that game, Nacickaite put up Drexel's first seven points against the Seahawks. Mershon then got into the action, scoring the next seven. Nacickiate would add five more before a third scorer, sophomore Fiona Flanagan, got into the act with a jumper to make it 21-11 with 2:11 remaining before intermission.

The Dragons kept up the defensive pressure in the second half, never letting their lead slip into single digits. As a team, Drexel hit 48.9 percent of their shots from the floor, although they did slip at the free throw line, where they were 8-for-15. Drexel outrebounded UNCW 36-31, limiting the cold-shooting Seahawks to just four second-chance points. Mershon had nine boards to pace the Dragons.

Late in the second half, head coach Denise Dillon inserted many of her reserves into the game, including freshman Tiffany Johnson. With 2:12 to play, Johnson buried a free throw to mark her first collegiate point. She would add another, finishing with two points. All 12 Dragons in uniform got into the action, with 11 of those 12 grabbing at least one rebound.

Tyler Hale finished with nine points on 3-of-4 shooting. She forced the Wilmington defense on several occasions, slashing to the hoop and getting to the rim or drawing a foul. Hale also found teammates open for looks on those drives, finishing with a season-high three assists. Fiona Flanagan finished with four points, four boards and two assists, all of which tied season highs.

Senior point guard Marisa Crane, who had two assists and three rebounds, also got her first block of the season and just the second of her career. She played 26 minutes at the point.

The Dragons are now 4-1 on their six-game road swing, and 3-1 in true road games during that stretch. They have one more road game to go before returning to the Daskalakis Athletic Center on December 19 against La Salle.

Drexel will now have seven days off before its next game, Monday, December 12 at Seton Hall. That game will tip off at 7:00 p.m. The Dragons will return to CAA play after the turn of the new year, visiting Hofstra on January 5.