By Mel Greenberg
It was a wild night Thursday in the Colonial Athletic Association as incumbents all held firm or rallied at the finish.
Here in Philadelphia, George Mason pushed reigning Drexel all night at the Daskalakis Athletic Center but the reigning conference champions rode Gabriela Marginean’s 26 points to a 59-51 win over the Patriots (8-9, 1-5 CAA).
Incidentally, on Sunday in the win over Delaware, Marginean passed Michael Anderson to become Drexel’s all-time men’s and women’s scorer.
Kamile Nacickaite scored 12 points Thursday night for the Dragons (11-6, 5-1).
“There’s not a lot to say about this one,” Drexel coach Denise Dillon reflected on her team’s inability to move ahead for a solid lead after finishing the first half with a flurry for a 28-21 lead.
“Just move on to the next.”
The next happens to be a noon battle here Sunday against Virginia Commonwealth, the team Drexel turned aside here down the stretch of last season to take sole possession of first place and then advance into the conference tournament with a first-ever CAA crown.
A win will put the Dragons into a first place-tie minimally with the Rams or a three-way tie depending on the outcome of Old Dominion’s game Sunday at Towson.
Both the Rams and Monarchs escaped at the finish Thursday night in their contests as did James Madison, which was in a tie for third with Delaware.
Old Dominion (7-9, 5-1) hit foul shots in the closing seconds to beat visiting Georgia State, 58-54, and stay within a game of VCU.
On a night that Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne set three school records, the Biue Hens (11-6, 3-3 CAA) were aced at the finish by the Rams (13-5, 6-0) when D’Andra Moss nailed a three-pointer with 0.4 seconds left for a 60-59 victory.
The good news for Delaware is the Blue Hens are back from a two-year hiatus showing the ability to compete with anyone in the conference.
The tough part is Delaware would really be making news instead of being on the verge of being almost out of the regular-season race for the title barring a mass scramble by the other contenders.
How narrow are the losses? Old Dominion was saved by a missed layup at the finish while Delle Donne missed a short shot Sunday that might have beaten Drexel in the second overtime.
Then came Thursday’s loss at VCU.
Delle Donne had 27 points for the second straight game and has shattered three freshman season records. Her 379 point total passes Danielle Leyfert’s 358 total set in 1997-98. She now has 34 three-pointers topping the freshman mark of 33 by Liz Hayes (2003-04), now the Blue Hens’ director of basketball operations. Delle Donne has also connected on 32 straight foul shots, breaking the record of 31 set by Linda Cyborski in 1990-91.
Meanwhile, James Madison trailed Northeast all night before rallying at the finish.
Penn State Returning From the Wilderness?
Don’t look now but the Nittany Lions are the best of the rest not named Ohio State in the Big 10 conference.
Coach Coquese Washington’s group emerged with a major road triumph Thursday night, beating Wisconsin 54-43 as Tyra Grant scored 14 points and Villa Maria graduate Julie Trogele had 13 points.
Penn State is now alone in second place ahead of the Badgers at 14-4 overall, the best in Washington’s three seasons, and 6-2 in the conference.
Earlier in the week, the squad sat down with the dominating three-time national champion volleyball team in Happy Valley to discuss what it takes to be a winner.
No. 8 Georgia took down No. 3 Tennesseee, the Bulldogs’ SEC rival, at home in Athens as Ashley Houts had 12 points in the 53-50 win.
Georgia had not beaten Tennessee in eight games, last winning in the 2004 SEC tournament.
Duke had plans of breaking Maryland’s long home win streak when the two meet in College Park Sunday night at 8.
However, Miami beat the Blue Devils to notoriety, beating the Terrapins, 80-77, to end the 48-game run at the Comcast Center.
That’s it for now.