PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/21/2018 – The Battle of 33rd Street featured the Drexel Dragons, the top scoring defensive team in the country, squaring off against their West Philadelphia neighbor, the University of Pennsylvania Quakers, who was ranked number three in scoring defense. So let’s look at the game through the prism of defense.
This one goes to the Quakers who take a 55 – 39 first ever win at the DAC. It was the fewest points scored by the Dragons this season. Penn limited Drexel to 20.9% shooting (14 – 67) and held them to 6 of 32 from the three-point line. The shooting percentage given up by the Quakers was the second lowest they surrendered this season.
“I thought our defense was excellent from the start to the finish,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “We tried to keep them off balance as best as we could. I was proud of our defense. That (Drexel) is a good team. This is a huge win for us and I am happy to get it here.”
The Red and Blue had offense that worked off the defense. Once the rebound was snared, the outlet passes led to fast breaks or got the offense set up before the Blue and Gold could set their defense. The middle had room for the Penn forwards. Pressure defense gave the Red and Blue some easy baskets.
“Having our defense play into our offense, push into transition helped us a lot,” said Penn guard Ashley Russell.
“You can play defense as well as you want, but if the ball doesn’t go in the basket, it flattens you out a little,” McLaughlin said. “When you score you get into your full court press, and those things came together.”
Penn forward Eleah Parker had a double-double scoring game-high 17 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. She also blocked 7 shots, a career-high. Princess Aghayere and Russell added 10 points apiece with Russell getting 9 boards.
“Eleah was special today,” said McLaughlin. “She was dominant on the defensive end, she rebounded the ball, and is showing perimeter skills.”
The first half belonged to the Quakers who limited the Dragons to 7 of 31 from the floor (22.6%), and surrendered one three-point basket. Drexel scored the first basket of the game, then were shutout for over 7 minutes until they got their next hoop. The Dragons did not get back-to-back buckets until the 2:20 mark of the second quarter when Eline Maesschalck and Hannah Nihill scored 5 straight. The Nihill three-pointer was the initial score from beyond the arc for the hosts.
“We pride ourselves on our defense, getting stops, and knowing where to be,” Russell said. “We drill it in practice. You know where you have to be because we do it every day, so it is second nature at this point.”
No Drexel player broke double-digits. Hannah Nihill led the way with 9 points, and Bailey Greenberg added 8 points.
“I was disappointed with the overall result, but it was mostly the effort form the beginning,” said Drexel Coach Denise Dillon. “We didn’t come out ready to play and match their intensity.”
Penn (6 – 2) travels to Stetson before opening up Ivy League play at Princeton.
Drexel (7 – 2) has one more non-conference game at Richmond before conference games begin. Towson will be visiting the DAC on January 4th.
Written By: Glenn Papazian