Both the Drexel Basketball Teams Headed to the Big Dance
March 13, 2021 –
The Drexel Dragons win the CAA Women’s Basketball Championship for the first time since 2009. The Dragons defeated the top-seeded Delaware Blue Hens 63 – 52 in the final. Drexel guard Keishana Washington scored a game-high 30 points, her second consecutive 30-point game and was named the Tournament Most Outstanding Player. Cutting the nets meant so much to her.
“It felt just amazing,” said Washington. “What other word than amazing for something you worked so hard for, and we’ve been through a ton of ups and downs and got the win.”
It was a true team win for the Dragons led by the “dynamic duo” of Washington and Hannah Hihill. Washington made 12 of 21 from the field . Nihill scored 14 points, all in the second half. Their experience and leadership propelled Drexel to the title.
“They are our captains,” Mallon said. “As we were heading into the tournament we only have two players that played in CAA Tournament minutes on the floor, and that is Hannah Nihill and Keishana Washington. Going into this they had to set the tone for what it’s like to play in the CAA Tournament. They were the ones who had the minutes and took that on and said this team has to realize it’s tournament time. It’s almost a different feeling and they had to lead us into it. I was so proud of how they took leadership.”
Again, the Dragons had to come from behind trailing 34 – 25 at halftime. The Blue Hens ended the first half on a 13 – 0 run. Drexel took it one possession at a time, took care of the ball, and made shots. That type of determined effort overcame both JMU and Delaware in the third quarter.
The offense found the range as they made 16 of 27 in the latter half. Washington hit the big shots scoring 10 points in the fourth quarter. She credits her teammates for the performance.
“My teammates and my coaches, they trust me with the ball in my hands,” Washington said. “They expect me to make plays and I did a good job with that. It comes down to who wants it more, and our team wanted it more today.”
Drexel turned it up on defense holding Delaware to 18 second half points, 5 in the third and 13 in the fourth quarter. The 5 points are the lowest scoring quarter for Delaware this season. The defensive charge was headed by Nihill who had 4 steals and 6 rebounds which disrupted the Blue Hens offense, who made 5 of 32 in the latter 20 minutes. The Blue Hens turned the ball over 17 times in the game. Nihill went for every steal, nothing new for her.
“I’m almost sure in every third quarter she turns into the hawk, and I’ll take it,” said Mallon. “I’ve never seen a player that can do what she does and change the tome of a game with her defense. That’s been from the beginning.”
And the defense translated into offense.
“It translated immensely on offense,” Washington said. “Defense leads to offense and when she (Nihill) gets it going on the defensive end creates opportunities for us to score in transition, so we don’t even have to run our offense.”
Paris McBride led the Blue Hens with 11 points. Jasmine Dickey, the league Player of the Year, scored 10 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
Washington, Nihill, and Kate Connolly were named to the All-Tournament team.
For the first time in program history both the men’s and women’s team win the CAA and are going to the NCAA Tournament.
“I can’t wait to see them,” Mallon said. “Our teams are really close. “We were the only ones on campus at one point. Right after the men won they were facetiming. I’m sure the same thing will be happening. The guys were having watch parties to watch us. That’s what you want to hear. It makes you happy.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian