NEWARK, Del. - The future of Drexel women's basketball is Gabriela Marginean, although the native of Romania is already doing an outstanding job.
The 6-foot-1 freshman scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds yesterday to lead the ninth-seeded Dragons to a 73-62 upset of No. 8 Georgia State in the first game of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament at Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center.
Marginean scored 16 points in the first half as the Dragons (10-20) led the Panthers, 33-31, at intermission.
Marginean said she did not care how many points she scored early. "I just wanted to win," she said.
The Dragons advanced to today's noon quarterfinal against top-seeded Old Dominion (21-8), which has won 15 straight conference tourneys since becoming a member of the CAA. The winner of the final on Sunday will earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
"Their freshman has really stepped it up," Georgia State coach Lea Henry said. "She can really produce for them. She's going to be a tremendous player in the league - she already is. She had 28 today and we tried to defend her."
Monarchs coach Wendy Larry, whose team had a bye, was in the stands to watch Drexel, which has won four of its last five games. ODU beat the Dragons, 83-51, in late January. That was two games before coach Denise Dillon's team fell to Georgia State, 78-67, in Atlanta.
"I just think they have tremendous chemistry," Larry said. "They move the ball and they're unselfish and they have good shooters. This is a great win for them."
Larry lauded Marginean, a 20-year-old who played at Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy in West Virginia.
"She's already mature in her game," Larry said of the CAA's rookie of the year. "She might be a freshman, but her age tells you she's a little bit older than a true freshman. Her national-team experience is really starting to show."
Drexel took control in the game by committing only five turnovers.
"We couldn't be happier to stick around for another day," Dillon said. "We finished the [regular] season on the roll that we wanted, and it's definitely a confidence booster coming into the tournament."
Kira Karlstrom, Drexel's lone senior, scored all 13 of her points in the second half, and Narissa Suber added 12 points.
Marcquitta Head scored 20 points and Kelcey Roegiers-Jensen 18 for Georgia State (15-15). Brittany Hollins was also in double figures with 10 points.
In the second half, Karlstrom scored seven points of a 12-4 run to give Drexel a 10-point lead in the first five minutes.
"I'm ready," Suber said of today's matchup with the Monarchs. "You always have to come out hard against Old Dominion because of their past accolades. But I think we're ready mentally as a team even though we may be a little physically tired today."
In other games yesterday, No. 5 seed William & Mary beat No. 12 George Mason, 79-69, and No. 6 Virginia Commonwealth topped No. 11 Northeastern, 74-58.
No. 10 North Carolina Wilmington beat No. 7 Towson, 55-41, last night.
No. 2 seed James Madison (25-4), No. 3 Delaware (25-4) and No. 4 Hofstra (23-6) also had first-round byes.
Contact staff writer Mel Greenberg at 215-854-5725 or firstname.lastname@example.org.