Carra, Delle Donne hold off Drexel 62-57
Published: Monday, March 4, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013 21:03
After falling behind by 12 points with just under 6 minutes to play, Drexel had one final opportunity to tie the game. The Dragons were down 59-57 and with under 30 seconds remaining in the game, Drexel guard Hollie Mershon took a pass from teammate Meghan Creighton and drove down the right lane toward the basket.
All she found was backboard and Delaware senior forward Elena Delle Donne.
Although Mershon scored 26 points in the game, she was unable to finish over Delle Donne at the rim. Delle Donne secured the rebound giving the Hens a 62-57 victory and continuing their 36-game conference win streak in front of a sold-out crowd Sunday at the Bob Carpenter Sports Center.
Delle Donne said her length was a key factor in forcing Mershon’s layup over the rim.
“They were doing that high screen and it was really giving us problems,” Delle Donne said. “That’s what got them back into the game. Finally, we were able to get a stop on that play at the end.”
Delle Donne won the opening tip and found senior guard Lauren Carra for an uncontested layup just 4 seconds into the game, which sparked an 11-2 Delaware run over the first 3:02 of the contest. However, Drexel fought back to take a 23-22 lead on a Fiona Flanagan jump shot with 5:50 remaining in the half.
The Hens brought down 11 offensive rebounds in the first half, which enabled Delaware to score 13 second chance points. The Hens took a 26-25 advantage into the break after senior guard Kayla Miller found Delle Donne for a layup with 38 seconds left to play.
Delle Donne and Carra combined to score 23 of the Hens first 25 points of the second half. Mershon and Flanagan were able to keep the Dragons within striking distance by running a series of high ball screens to create 3-point opportunities from the wings and corners. Delaware head coach Tina Martin said Drexel’s ability to space the floor caused problems for the Hens’ defense.
“Give Drexel all the credit in the world,” Martin said. “They can shoot the basketball. We’ve had so many overtime games and so many games that are this close with Drexel. It’s a rivalry and the kids executed when we needed to and got stops when we needed.”
A 3-point conversion from Mershon tied the game at 54-54 with 3 minutes to play. Two possessions later, Carra responded with a 3-pointer of her own to give the Hens a slim advantage, until Mershon found Drexel guard Rachel Pearson for a corner 3-pointer to tie the game on the ensuing possession.
With 53 seconds remaining, Mershon fouled Carra along the left baseline to put her on the line giving the Hens an opportunity to take a late lead. Carra hit both free throws to give her team a 59-57 advantage. The Dragons were unable to respond on their final two possessions, sealing the victory for Delaware.
Carra said Delaware’s senior leadership allowed the team to keep its poise and squash any potential comeback attempt from Drexel.
“It all came down to composure today,” Carra said. “The people that were on the floor we were able to stay together and keep each other up. I think those runs that they made we were able to just stick together and pull it out.”
The Hens final regular season game is tomorrow against Georgia State at home at 7 p.m. Delaware then heads to Upper Marlboro, Md. to square off against CAA opponents in the conference tournament.