Drexel’s women’s basketball team will play Elon for an NCAA bid Saturday afternoon, not because they played a pretty game of basketball Friday afternoon. In March survival mode, the top-seeded Dragons squeezed past archrival Delaware, 58-53, in overtime to advance to the Colonial Athletic Associations finals.
You shoot 29 percent, you need to rely on other things to get you through. That’s why Dragons coach Denise Dillon was talking about her team’s fight at the Daskalakis Athletic Center, and also the need to figure out where the ball should go late — “who is not going to panic.”
Dragons senior Kelsi Lidge checked all the boxes. In regulation, Delaware led by 44-39 when Lidge came up with a steal and an assist to teammate Aubree Brown on the break and then Lidge drove the right side to get the Dragons within 44-43 with a minute and a half left. Her free throw with 20 seconds left, making one of two, put the game into OT.
Delaware (19-12) had kept the lead from the opening two minutes of the second half, led by four three-pointers from Abby Gonzales, but the Blue Hens committed 26 turnovers, including six in overtime. Four Drexel starters had multiple steals, led by Brown and Sara Woods with five each.
The basket had been starting to look even smaller for Drexel (26-6) when Niki Metzel hit a three-pointer up top with 5 minutes left, after the Dragons fell behind by 42-36 to a team they had beaten by 21 and 19 points during the season. It was Drexel’s second (and last) three-pointer of the game, and Metzel’s second of the season.
Early on, Delaware had taken a 12-2 lead. Tough to keep a lead forever, though, when you go over a quarter without a field goal. After the Blue Hens scored a single second-quarter point, Drexel was up at halftime, 24-20, after the two teams had combined to shoot 15 for 60 in the half. Drexel’s edge came from its offensive rebounding advantage, and also scoring all the points off turnovers in the half (8-0 advantage) after grabbing six steals. The second half, Delaware began like the first, the Blue Hens scoring 11 of the first 13 points.
This time, it took until overtime for Drexel to get back in front, to still have a shot at the Dragons’ first NCAA bid since 2009.