In the first 30 years and 123 days of Drexel women's basketball at the Division I level, the Dragons had never beaten a team from the Southeastern Conference. Over the next four days, Drexel would beat SEC teams twice. Days after winning at Auburn to earn a spot in the WNIT semifinals, the Drexel women's basketball team hosted Florida on Wednesday night and lead nearly the entire way as they beat the Gators and advanced to the 2013 WNIT championship game, 67-57. Hollie Mershon
had 28 points and 10 assists, the latter a career high, to lead the Dragons.
Drexel (27-10) led for the final 35:40 of play in defeating Florida (22-15), which had won its first four WNIT contests on the road. Fiona Flanagan
got off to a hot start with five quick points, including a three-pointer which gave Drexel a 9-6 lead it would not relinquish, and finished with 11 points. Taylor Wootton
dropped in 16 points, her ninth-straight game scoring in double figures.
Sydney Moss led Florida with 20 points, 16 of which came in the first half. She also had a double-double, pulling down 10 of the Gators' 26 rebounds. Drexel outrebounded Florida 33-26 on the evening.
Throughout the Dragons' run in the WNIT, Drexel has utilized its strong defense and timely shooting, putting teams away with extended scoring runs. The Dragons got another early run on Wednesday night. After trailing 6-4 with 16:44 remaining in hte first half, Flanagan scored the next five points for Drexel, keying an 11-0 run that extended over the next 3:49 of play. After Jennifer George knocked down a short jumper to get Florida back on the board, Flanagan answered with a three-pointer to push Drexel's advantage to 18-8, the first double-digit lead of the night for the Dragons.
Playing in front of a raucous crowd of 1,412, the Dragons led by as many as 11 in the first half. They reached that mark on three different occasions before intermission, including with 1:36 to play when Mershon spun to the basket and scooped up an off-balanced shot that rolled around the rim and in, putting Drexel ahead 34-23. Florida had an answer though, as Jaterra Bonds got a layup and Moss sank a three-pointer from the left wing, the first trey of the night for the Gators. Drexel took a 34-28 lead into the break.
Coming out of halftime, neither team could get much going offensively for the first three minutes. It was Mershon who opened the scoring, freeing herself for a three-pointer with 17:04 remaining. Florida briefly pulled to within five points at 37-32 with 15:08 to play, but Wootton responded with a 10-foot jumper from the elbow.
Nearly nine minutes into the second half, Mershon cut to the hoop for a bucket that put Drexel back up by 11, 45-34. January Miller responded with a three-pointer for the Gators, but with 10:08 to play, Rachel Pearson
drained a three-pointer to put Drexel back up by 11, 48-37. They would lead by double digits nearly the entire rest of the way, with Florida cutting the lead to eight only with 1:00 remaining and the game nearly in hand for the Dragons.
The win puts Drexel into the WNIT championship game, where they will host the Utes of Utah. Utah will be the fifth-straight opponent that Drexel is facing for the first time in program history. The Utes went to Kansas State and knocked off the Wildcats in overtime in their semifinal, 54-46. Tickets for Saturday's championship game are available now by visiting www.DrexelTickets.com. They can be purchased on Thursday by calling 1-866-4-DREXEL or by visiting the Drexel ticket office at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. Tickets are $10 for adults, and free for youth under 12. The first 300 students will be admitted free with ID. Fans who cannot make it to the game can catch the action live on CBS Sports Network, with tip off set for 3:00 p.m.