Defending the Throne
Lady Monarchs slay dragons 53-50 in big conference win
A week removed from a convincing win in the Ted, the Lady Monarchs took the court against the Lady Dragons of Drexel University. Drexel (13-5, 6-1) came into the game second in the CAA and fresh off of a loss against the University of Delaware. The Monarchs (13-6, 4-3) fell to the Tribe of William and Mary their last time out. The Monarchs showed fight throughout the game, and were able to pull out a close win, 53-50.
The first half was a defensive battle. The game got off to a slow scoring start, staying at 2-1 in favor of the Dragons with 16:58 left to play in the half. Through 16 minutes, both teams combined for 12 turnovers, five blocks and five steals. Neither team shot particularly well early, especially the Dragons, shooting under 25 percent for the entire first half. “I thought they were aggressive, they were switching screens, they were bodying us, we continued to try and force passes that weren’t there…we did a lot of standing,” Drexel head coach Denise Dillon said. The Monarchs were able to go into the half with a 26-18 advantage, led by Tiffany Minor’s eight points off the bench. Minor would go on to finish with a career-high 12 points. “Once I made the first shot they just told me to keep going, and they just gave me energy to keep going.” Minor said. Ashley Betz-White led the team with four assists. The Monarchs were able to hold the CAA’s leading scorer Hollie Mershon to six points on 27 percent percent shooting in the first half.
Old Dominion picked up right where they left off in the first half, going on a 9-4 run over the first four and a half minutes. The Monarchs stretched their lead to 13, with 15:54 to play. However, Mershon and the Dragons would not stop fighting. The senior guard heated up, scoring a quick 12 second-half points to start a run that would bring the Dragons within four with 9:02 to play. “I thought we did a good job in the second half in getting stops and then scoring on the offensive end, we were running our plays, setting our screens, doing things that we needed to do that we didn’t do in the first half,” Mershon said. The Monarchs went over six minutes without a field goal, resulting in Drexel cutting the deficit to one with 4:52 to play. Drexel was finally able to take the lead, 47-46 off of two Mershon free throws with 3:33 to play. The lead wouldn’t last long for the Dragons as senior guard Jackie Cook knocked down a crucial three-pointer at the top of the key with 2:25 left in the tight battle. The three was set up on a second chance opportunity when Shae Kelley hauled in her ninth rebound of the game. “In the end we gave up a crucial rebound that could’ve helped us.” Mershon said. The three-point attempt was Cook’s first of the game. “I was taking what they gave me and they weren’t giving me the three so I was doing whatever else I could for my team to win,” Cook said. When the game was on the line, the Monarchs put the ball in Kelley’s hands, and she delivered. Kelley’s layup made it a four-point game with 23 seconds left. Fans didn’t get any time to relax, as Taylor Wootton made a clutch three pointer to climb within one. Jackie Cook stepped to the line with six seconds and knocked down two free throws to push it to 53-50 and that would be the final score of the game.
Monarch fans were happy to pull out a victory against a tough opponent like the Dragons. Most importantly, head coach Karen Barefoot was ecstatic. “I’m just so proud of this team, we battled against a really good team. I feel like, when we play that tough, we’re tough to beat. I say that all the time but we really committed, we were focused in practice the last couple days and as a result, we got a big win tonight.” Barefoot said. The Monarchs coaching staff knew all of the schemes that the Dragons would throw their way and they warned the team ahead of time. The Monarchs won’t dwell on this big win too long, as they take the court against the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks on Sunday at 3 p.m.
By: Mitchell Brown