Drexel can't stop Old Dominion

NEWARK, Del. - Can anyone stop the Old Dominion women?

The answer has been in the negative for all 15 previous seasons the Monarchs have competed in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.

It remained that way yesterday after eighth-seeded Drexel's attempt to alter CAA history was ruined in the closing minutes. ODU prevailed, 66-55, in a quarterfinal game at the Bob Carpenter Center on Delaware's campus.

This is the first time since 1988 that the tournament has not been played in ODU's home state of Virginia. The Monarchs are from Norfolk.

Drexel's elimination meant Temple is the only remaining Philadelphia team with a chance to participate in the NCAA women's tourney.

Although the Owls were upset by Xavier last week in the Atlantic Ten tournament semifinals, they are considered a strong contender for an at-large bid.

In yesterday's game, the Dragons (10-21) reduced a 14-point deficit in the second half to just six, 59-53, with 1 minute, 47 seconds left in the game.

Tish Lyons then made a three-point play for the Monarchs (22-8), and ODU went on to advance past Drexel to a semifinal game today against fourth-seeded Hofstra (24-6).

"We finished the season much stronger than we started off," Drexel coach Denise Dillon said. "Old Dominion is a tough team. We missed some shots there in the second half that I thought could give us a little boost, but we came up short."

The CAA champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Hofstra earned the next chance to stop the conference rulers by beating No. 5 William & Mary, 71-46, as the Tribe finished its season at 19-12.

Meanwhile, second-seeded Delaware remained alive last night in a season in which CAA officials believe they may get some rare at-large bids from the NCAA committee.

The host Blue Hens (26-4) advanced with an easy 79-58 victory over No. 6 Virginia Commonwealth (17-13).

Delaware will meet fourth-seeded James Madison (26-4), which beat 10th-seeded UNC Wilmington, 73-43, in last night's final game. The Seahawks finished 8-23.

The Blue Hens beat JMU here, 77-67, last month after an earlier road loss, 73-65, in Harrisonburg, Va.

In Drexel's game, the Dragons' Narissa Suber scored 20 points in the physically played matchup. Freshman Gabriela Marginean, the CAA rookie of the year, added 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Old Dominion's T.J. Jordan had a team-high 17 points, while Sherida Triggs added 14 points and Tiffany Green scored 11.

Despite yesterday's loss, Drexel's future is bright. The Dragons will return all but lone senior Kiara Karlstrom, whose career ended yesterday.

"I'm going to miss it," Karlstrom said afterwards. "I really don't want to take off my jersey. But I'm going to miss my teammates and my coaches because this is it."

In Delaware's game, Tyresa Smith scored 22 points, Courtney Irving had 12 points, and Chrissy Fisher and Kyle DeHaven each scored 11. D'Andra Moss had 13 points for VCU, but Quanitra Hollingsworth, who had been averaging 15.8 points, was held to just five points.

"This is our home floor," Delaware coach Tina Martin said. "We want to defend our home floor. We're on a mission right now."

Contact staff writer Mel Greenberg at 215-854-5725 or mgreenberg@phillynews.com.