By Mel Greenberg
Spurred by senior Hollie Mershon’s 18 points in the first half, Drexel powered away from George Mason and rode to a 57-46 victory Thursday night in a Colonial Athletic Association game at the Dragons’ Daskalakis Athletic Center to make them 2-0 on the current three-game stand.
Mershon, who was the only player for Drexel (18-7, 7-3 CAA) in double figures, finished with 26 points to go with three assists, three rebounds and a pair of steals,
The game was the only one on the slate featuring the 10-team PhilahoopsW group and Drexel moved closer to at least third place with a chance still of finishing second, either of which would keep the Dragons out of No. 18 Delaware’s path until the CAA championship round of the conference playoffs.
The tournament will again be held at the Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md. Drexel is currently 2-0 on the home stand that concludes Sunday when William & Mary visit.
The Dragons led by as many as 18 points over George Mason (8-17, 3-11) early in the second half and still had a comfortable lead of 17 points with four minutes left when the Patriots narrowed the gap the rest of the way.“Tonight, we really focused on the defensive end on making stops and it really helps into offense and making shots,” Mershon said. “And when we’re confident on the defensive end it gives us confidence on the offensive end.”
Drexel coach Denise Dillon did not like the letdown at the end as she and her staff shuffled things around to look for a third scoring option. The Dragons lost senior Nicki Jones for the remainder of the season a week ago at Hofstra to a knee injury.
“When Hollie plays good defense like that, it sets the tempo for the rest of the team and her offense – she’s been playing strongly, aggressive all year. When she focuses on the defense, really good things happen for us.”
After Drexel plays Sunday, the Dragons travel to Georgia State and then finish out against the top of the conference traveling to Delaware and hosting James Madison.
“We talked about playing fundamentally sound because you never know if we’re not going to have a good shooting night,” Dillon said.
It’s a quiet night in terms of the total group Friday but important, nonetheless, for the Ivy duo of Princeton and Penn, who are now running 1-2 at the top of the league standings.
Princeton hosts Columbia at Jadwin Gym at 7 p.m. as the Tigers start the countdown toward a fourth-straight Ivy title.
Penn, meanwhile, which moved into sole possession of second place, two games behind Princeton, will host Cornell at The Palestra and then the two home teams will switch for Saturday night’s action.
The Quakers would go to the WNIT with a second-place outright or tiebreak finish as the second best team in the league, though officials could still give them an at-large invite if deemed worthy enough.
Also on Saturday, Rutgers travels to St. John’s in the afternoon looking to snap a three-game losing streak, looking to snap a string of losses to the Red Storm, looking to reverse direction in the Big East,.and by doing all that, looking to give their Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer her 900th career win.
At the moment, Rutgers is in serious danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade.
The Guru will go to Princeton Friday night, track Penn during the Tigers’ game, and then determine what works best on Saturday.