Dragons Score the Last 7 Points Over the Final Two Minutes to Earn a 71 – 65 Win
November 17, 2021 –
The Drexel Dragons ended the season opening home stand with another city opponent. At the end of the previous week Drexel defeated Saint Joseph’s. In this game another Philly team came to the DAC as the La Salle Explorers visited. And it was a typical city battle where Drexel was able to overcome a late deficit and pull away at the end to get a 71 – 65 win.
The Explorers led 65 – 64 with just under two minutes to play. The Dragons closed out the game with a 7-point run led by the experienced guard duo of Keishana Washington and Hannah Nihill who scored the last 9 Drexel points. With the game on the line, the ball got in the hands of the experienced tandem who have the confidence needed to perform in game closing situations.
“I’ve been in these situations for the last four years in a bunch of games,” said Washington. “So I don’t think it’s anything that’s new to me. Obviously, my teammates, I know they trust me with the ball and I can make the play.”
“At one point we were down three with less than three minutes to go, so we got to go. But I stayed calm, coaches stayed calm, and we got the win.”
Washington scored 10 points in the game and had a game-high 7 assists, one shy of her career-best. Foul trouble limited Nihill who had 9 points, three points over the last two minutes.
“I was really pleased with our team coming up with this one because it was a little gutsy,” said Drexel Coach Amy Mallon. “We had the lead. La Salle made a run and went ahead. And just how we stayed calm and I think that goes to our leadership. With Key (Keishana Washington) and Tess (Tessa Brugler) stepping up in the roles as leaders, knowing they’ve been here before and knowing what it would take to finish the game.”
They had to earn it.
Going into the fourth quarter the Dragons led 52 – 48, but the Explorers erased that deficit in the first 30 seconds on a three-pointer by Claire Jacobs and basket by Jaye Haynes. The game became a back and forth contest. Guard Kayla Spruill have La Salle a 56 – 53 lead on the triple at the 8:32 mark. Baskets by Haynes, who scored 12 points, and Amy Jacobs were matched by Dragons forward Kate Connolly who gave Drexel a 62 – 60 lead with 4:27 to play. The effort by Connolly helped set up the final run for Drexel.
“I said to her you’re going to be open and get those looks and you’ve got to take them,” Mallon said about Connolly. “You’re seeing her stepping up and taking them with confidence now, and taking them because she has to. You have to take a shot not because you have to, because you want to.”
Amy Jacobs answered for La Salle with a three. Then Washington put Drexel back in front. Amy Jacobs gave the Explorers their last lead at 65 – 64. Nihill drained a jumper with 1:10 to play. The Explorers had two opportunities on the next possession, but Dragons forward Tessa Brugler came up with two big blocked shots. Washington hit a jumper in the paint, assisted by Nihill, with 24 seconds to play and a 68 – 65 lead. The Explorers had two more shots, but both were off the mark, then Washington and Nihill closed it out at the free throw line.
“You’ve got to win the games when you have a chance to win,” said La Salle Coach Mountain MacGillivray. “We struggled a lot of the game, but we ended up leading for six minutes. It was probably all in the forest and we got to find a way to finish that off. You know Drexel is veteran and they’re tough. We had to respond to how tough and physical they were.”
Early in the game La Salle was cold from the field and the Dragons moved out to a 16 point lead. But the Explorers, who missed their first seven shots, overcame that deficit. Spruill scored 13 points to lead La Salle, and Haynes added 12 for La Salle who shot 36.9% (24 of 65). The Explorers made 11 of 34 from beyond the arc.
Point guard Molly Masciantonio hit a long distance three-pointer at the halftime buzzer to bring La Salle to within 37 – 33. The shot gave her team a bounce.
Masciantonio scored 9 points. She had 6 assists for third time this season, and did not turn the ball over.
“I really wanted to try to not turn the ball over because Hannah’s (Nihill) really a great defender,” said Masciantonio. “She got the defensive player of the year last year so I was really trying to make sure that I wasn’t dribbling too high and not make dumb passes.”
Brugler, a graduate student, posted another double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Equally important was her 6 blocked shots which stopped potential scores by the opposition.
“Defense has been a big thing for me,” Brugler said. “It’s something I’ve tried to develop over the last four years, five years now. The stops are important. We need those when things aren’t going our way on offense. I’ve got to use that defense to get those stops we need.”
Mariah Leonard contributed 11 points. The advantage for Drexel in points in the paint was a large 38 – 20 margin.
La Salle falls to 1 – 2, and gets ready for a game on Saturday with Niagara off a tough loss.
“Pleased with the effort, disappointed with the result,” said MacGillivray.
Drexel goes on the road for the first time to play UMES coming off a big win. And the Dragons have another Philly victory.
“Any game you win in Philly is a big game,” said Mallon. “So we’ll take it. Right now we’re 2 – 0 against Philly teams and we’ll take it and run with it.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian