Sometimes you just need to tip your cap. The Elon University Women’s Basketball program played in the CAA Championship Game last season against JMU at JMU and this season against Drexel at Drexel. They walked away with two titles. It’s an impressive haul and seniors Shay Burnett (This year’s CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player) Malaya Johnson and Meme Garner deserve a ton of credit for what they have done for the small school of 6,000 undergrads and for Head Coach Charlotte Smith.
The Phoenix jumped all over Drexel in the early going with an 18-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. However the Dragons had 10 more shots in the quarter and were appearing to do the little things right. While Elon was getting better shots, it seemed unlikely that the Dragons would shoot just 20% for the contest. Until they did… Finishing the game shooting just 25% from the field, 18% from deep and yet still keeping it a close contest. The Dragons hit some shots in the 4th quarter closing the lead to six with four minutes still to play. After trading empty possessions a Meme Garner three was the dagger.
“I do feel like we were getting good looks” said Coach Dillon after the game. “Better looks than we had in previous games against Elon” but they didn’t fall on Championship Saturday. The Dragons won the turnover battle 19-11 and doubled up the Phoenix on the offensive glass 14-7. Those numbers indicate a win much more often than not. It just wasn’t to be on this day.
And then there’s that other item. With Sara Woods out, the Dragons only had two seniors playing. Kelsi Lidge and Megan Merecic combined for 47 minutes, compared to the Elon seniors 84. The Dragons missed Woods, with Coach Dillon stating “Her scoring and her wanting the basketball is a big difference… it was obvious we were missing her.” And while Elon was able to give over 40% of their minutes to seniors, the flip is true – this was a young Drexel team with plenty of life still in it for this season, and will enter next year among the league favorites.
The Drexel season didn’t end with this one. They will enter the WNIT next week. The 2013 WNIT Champions are used to hosting games and making runs deep in the tourney, so expect to be right back at the DAC for a chance to support them.
If you don’t get a chance to support them in the WNIT, take this note to heart from senior captain Kelsi Lidge: “I can’t wait to see next year, we’re still – they’re still – a young team, that fight we show now is going to build and build.for the following years.”