Drexel WNIT Championship The First Division I Championship By Philadelphia Women’s Basketball Team
PHILADELPHIA, PA. 4/6/2013 – History was made at the DAC as the Drexel Dragons became the first-ever Philadelphia Division I team to win a postseason championship defeating Utah 46 – 43. Senior guard Hollie Mershon gave the Dragons a lead on a layup with 20.6 seconds to play then converted two free throws at the 9.7 mark to provide the final margin of victory. The team was not looking to make history. They wanted to win a championship, and quite simply, wanted to continue to play basketball together.
“It was the perfect finish for a great team,” said Drexel Coach Denise Dillon. “It was obviously a long season but this team wanted to play as many games as possible. I wanted to coach this team 100 more games and this team wanted to play 100 more games. I couldn’t be happier with this outcome and giving the senior class a championship.”
The play of the senior class members helped this team to the victory. Mershon scored 14 points and had a team-high in rebounds with 8 and assists with 3. The Malvern native, and Philly College Sports.com Co-Player of the Year, was named the WNIT Tournament MVP. Forward Taylor Wootton scored a game-high 16 points, 12 in the first half that provided a majority of the Drexel offense. Wootton was named to the All-Tournament team. Guard Renee Johnson-Allen who broke the ball loose resulting in a steal by Wootton with 31 seconds left that led to the game-winning layup by Mershon.
“It’s really incredible,” said Mershon. “I’m obviously estatic and very emotional. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my career here.”
The game was won in true Drexel fashion, by a come from behind victory. Utah led for most of the game. Drexel did not take their first lead of the game until the 10:03 mark the second half when junior guard Fiona Flanagan drained a three-point basket for a 36 – 33 lead. The Dragons expanded the lead to 42 – 37 on a layup by Johnson-Allen with 4:18 to play. Utah would regain the lead at 43 – 42 at the 3:02 mark on a three-pointer by guard Iwalani Roodrigues. Utah would score no more as Drexel got the next four points by Mershon to end the game. Utah had one last shot to tie the game, but a three-pointer by Michelle Plouffe was short. The horn sounded, the celebration began, the blue and gold streamers flew out of the stands, and the students stormed the court.
Drexel committed only one turnover in the game while Utah turned the ball over nine times to give the Dragons an 11 – 0 advantage in points off turnovers.
The Dragons accomplished much this season. The team recorded 28 wins which set the school record for most wins in a season. Wootton, who was named to the All-Tournament team, became the 21st player in school history to reach the 1,000 point plateau. Mershon scored 1,601 career-points placing her fifth on the school all-time scoring list. Mershon also had 387 assists placing her third in the Drexel record book. The numbers will be meaningful, but what they did and most importantly, where, will be the memory the team will have forever.
“There is definitely nothing better than playing on your homecourt and winning a championship game and cutting down the net you were playing on for the whole season,” said Mershon.
Written By: Glenn Papazian