On February 22nd the Drexel Dragons Men’s Basketball team completed the NCAA’s greatest comeback of all time against the Delaware Blue Hens. Just 15 days later, to steal a line from Martina McBride “This one’s for the girls.” It was Denise Dillon’s team’s turn to hand a dramatic loss to the Dragons biggest rival, a team that the Drexel women had never beaten in the CAA tournament.
This one came as part of an ugly back and forth affair that featured the Blue Hens up five points with the ball and just 2:29 left in the contest. Denise Dillon had been going largely with a group of sophomores to get the team moving in the fourth. Bailey Greenberg was both the teams leading scorer and tasked with defending CAA Player of the Year Nicole Enabosi. But with a deficit and under three to go, it was time for senior captain Kelsi Lidge. Lidge, who hadn’t hit a field goal in the game, subbed back into the game with 3:34 to go. She missed her first layup, but picked up a steal on the ensuing possession and threw an assist to Aubree Brown to close the game to three. After a turnover by Delaware, it was Lidge on a layup. Delaware answered with a jumper and Denise Dillon called time on the ensuing possession.
The play called was an isolation on the baseline for Kelsi Lidge. It showed complete trust from a coach who had a litany of options to choose from. She went with the player who hadn’t scored a field goal for the first 37 minutes of the contest. And it worked. Layup, good. Next possession: Timeout. Isolation to Lidge. Kelsi was fouled on the take and went to the line where she tied the game, pushing it to overtime. In overtime, the overdrive continued as she scored 4 of the teams 12 points to eventually salt it away 58 – 53. “That’s where we stand… Go down fighting and put the ball in the hands of someone who wants that responsibility” said Coach Dillon on her choice to get the ball to the veteran playmaker.
While Kelsi may have been the hero at the games end, it was the combination of Sara Woods and Bailey Greenberg that had the Dragons out and running early. With the Dragons digging an early hole, 12-2, Woods hit a shot and the ensuing foul shot, and then she did it again a minute later to limit the first quarter damage to 19-13. On the other end, Bailey Greenberg was having a day guarding Delaware premier player, Nicole Enabosi. “It’s a great challenge to go up against Nicole… [Bailey] realizes the importance of trying to get her out of position… she uses her length nicely and the biggest thing is the rebounding.” said Denise Dillon. The Association’s Player of the Year was held off the scoreboard and limited to just four rebounds in the games first half. With Greenberg fighting foul trouble, the Dragons were still able to use double teams and change looks in order to hold her to just 8 points in the games final 25 minutes.
Taking away the Blue Hens best player led to a great show of team defense, highlighted in a second quarter in which the Dragons held Delaware to a single point. “It was that second quarter that gave us a chance.” said coach Dillon of the quarter, which ended with an 11-1 Dragon score. The Dragons forced seven UD turnovers in the period and out-rebounded the Hens 28-19, including 11-4 on the offensive glass alone.
And so the Dragons advance. The CAA finals will be held at the DAC against the winner of JMU vs Elon, which at the half appears like it will be Elon. The game will tip off at 1pm tomorrow, Saturday March 10th, with the winner advancing to the NCAA Tournament. Today’s game featured a “to the rafters” DAC Pack that went toe to toe with hundreds of UD fans that made the short trip from Delaware. With the season on the line, look for a similar turnout tomorrow.