PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – It may take a quarter. Sometimes it takes two. But eventually, North Carolina A&T’s defense becomes a nuisance. Ask the Drexel Dragons women’s basketball team.
A&T’s defense became a frustrating problem for the Dragons midway through the third quarter as the second-best defense in women’s college basketball asserted itself well enough to take down Drexel, 54-47, Sunday afternoon at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. The win helps A&T bounce back after its Friday loss to the College of Charleston, which ended the Aggies eight-game winning streak.
With the win, the Aggies improved to 15-7 overall and 9-2 in Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) play. The Aggies remain tied atop the CAA standings with Stony Brook after the Seawolves blew out Northeastern on the road on Sunday. The Dragons fell to 10-11 overall and 5-5 in CAA action.
A&T is now 2-0 against Drexel, as the Aggies have won in consecutive years at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
Drexel, the defending CAA co-regular-season champions, had its sights on securing a key conference win on Sunday to get back into contention for another regular-season championship. Grace O’Neill’s 3-pointer gave the Dragons a 40-30 lead with 4:38 remaining in the third quarter. Chloe Hodges added a free throw for the Dragons to provide them with their biggest lead of the game.
Nine-and-a-half minutes of game action were counted down before the Dragons scored another point. In the meantime, the Aggies methodically got themselves back into the game by using a couple of different zone defensive looks to rattle the Dragons. A&T went into the fourth quarter trailing 41-35 after a Talia Davis free throw and back-to-back buckets from Jordyn Dorsey.
Sophomore center Chaniya Clark added two more free throws before her turnaround jumper over a Drexel defender whittled the Dragons lead down to two, 41-39, with 6:42 remaining in the game. Senior guard D’Mya Tucker gave the Aggies their first lead with just under five minutes remaining. Tucker put the ball on the floor, got to the rim, and scored on a layup.
Drexel’s Brooke Mullin fouled her on the play, sending Tucker to the free throw line, where she completed the and-1 to put A&T ahead 42-41. Drexel responded as Jasmine Valentine went back door against the Aggies defense, and Mullin found her open underneath the basket for the score as the Dragons recaptured the lead.
Freshman Paris Locke had an answer for Valentine’s basket by knocking down a baseline jumper to give the Aggies a 44-43 lead with four minutes remaining. Drexel continued to heat up as Amaris Baker pump-faked a 3-pointer from the corner, dribbled a few feet closer to the basket, and netted a baseline jumper, putting the Dragons back in front.
But the Aggies finally took the lead for good as Maleia Bracone took a pass from Locke and sprinted to the basket for a layup in traffic. Bracone scored on the play and drew a foul from Valentine that resulted in Bracone completing the 3-point play to give the Aggies a 47-45 lead with 3:11 to play. Dorsey then stripped Hodges of the basketball and raced to the other end for a layup and a four-point Aggies lead.
The Aggies went 5-for-6 from the free throw line over the final 80 seconds of the game to seal the win. The Aggies did not turn the ball over in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Drexel took only eight shots in the fourth quarter and turned the ball over six times. Bracone led four Aggies in double figures with 13 points, five rebounds and two steals on 5-for-11 shooting. Clark finished with 11 points and nine rebounds, including five offensive boards.
Tucker finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and three assists, and Dorsey added 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Mullin led the Dragons with 16 points. A&T returns home to the Corbett Sports Center on Friday to face Hampton for the second time this season. The game starts at 6 p.m. and will be the Aggies Play4Kay game for Breast Cancer Awareness.