By Matt Leon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The wild post-season ride for the Drexel women’s basketball team is set to continue on Wednesday night as they take on Florida in the national semifinals of the WNIT at the DAC.
Drexel (26-10) has won four games in this tournament, beating Iona, Harvard, Bowling Green and Auburn, and this game against Florida will represent the first-ever game in April for a Drexel basketball team.
“To be playing at this time of the year is amazing and with a real special group, we couldn’t be happier,” Drexel head coach Denise Dillon tells KYW Newsradio. “Still have a couple games left to finish off and that’s the plan, starting here at the DAC.”
The key to Drexel’s success during this run has been their defense, and that was never more evident than in their 56-43 win at Auburn in the quarterfinals. The Dragons held the Tigers to 27% shooting from the field for the game and Auburn went without a field goal for an incredible 11:25 of the contest.
“They’re really working together, every possession,” Dillon says of her team on the defensive end. “We noticed it in that last game (of the CAA Tournament) against Delaware and carrying it right into the WNIT. They are playing defense like it’s the last possession of the game. And when a team is working that hard to get the stop, the shot’s going up, but not allowing that offensive rebound, you know you have you a chance. You may not have the best shooting night, but you know you’re in there when your defense is in check. They look one another in the eyes, they say, ‘Hey, this is what we need to do’ and they get after it.”
Drexel continues to be led by senior guard Hollie Mershon and her 19.4 points a game. Fellow senior, forward Taylor Wooton chips in just under 12 points a contest.
It has been an impressive WNIT run for 22-14 Florida as well. The Gators have won every game in this tournament on the road, including defeating another CAA team, James Madison (85-80), last time out in the quarterfinals.
“They’re bringing a lot of resilience into the DAC,” Dillon says. “They have fallen back in some games, but they have not quit. They get after it on both ends of the floor. They overwhelm you a little bit with their athleticism on the defensive end, they try to pressure you and force you to do some things you don’t want to. Then on the offensive end, they have great options at every position. They have a strong post presence, they have the mobility on the outside in (freshman guard/forward Sydney) Moss, she can do a lot off the dribble, takes a shot if she’s left open. So they just have some great options.”
These two teams have never met, but this will be Drexel’s third game against an SEC opponent this season. In addition to that WNIT win over Auburn, the Dragons lost in overtime to South Carolina during the regular season.
The winner of this game faces the winner of Utah and Kansas State for the WNIT title on Saturday.
Drexel and Florida will tip-off at 7:00pm on Wednesday night.
You can follow Matt on Twitter @mattleonkyw.