Drexel basketball made program history last season when both the men’s and women’s teams made the 2021 NCAA tournament after winning the Colonial Athletic Association championship.
Drexel has celebrated the historic achievement with two new banners inside the Daskalakis Athletic Center, plus updating tournament banners.
The men’s championship team was honored in front of a packed crowd on Tuesday night prior to a 103-74 win over Neumann University.
On Friday, the women had former players unveil the 2021 championship banner and add the 2021 NCAA Tournament berth to another before their 63-55 win over St. Joseph’s (1-1).
“It was exciting,” Drexel head coach Amy Mallon said. “You were trying not to think about it too much because you didn’t want it to affect your approach to the game, but at the same time, you really have to take this all in because you don’t know when the next one is going to go up.”
Drexel women made the NCAA Tournament in 2009, 2020 and 2021. The Dragons (1-1) won the 2020 CAA championship and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament before it was canceled. It was the men’s first tourney appearance since a three-year run from 1994-96.
Each team was honored after the other was scheduled to play the first game of a doubleheader. The women lost their season opener, 52-50, against Marist on Tuesday prior to the men’s win over Neumann.
The men’s team was scheduled to open Friday’s doubleheader, but the game was postponed after Fairleigh Dickinson’s bus broke down. Moving back the start of the St. Joseph’s-Drexel women’s contest wasn’t an option since it was a televised game.
Four Dragons finished in double figures in the win over the Hawks. Hannah Nihill (10 points) and Keishana Washington (12 points) led Drexel in scoring last season, so there’s not much surprise there, and Mariah Leonard (14 points) is one of the veteran players.
A big question for Drexel before the season was adding a consistent scorer to go with Washington and Nihill. Bucknell transfer Tessa Brugler has a strong case to be that player after scoring 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting.
“With the addition of Tessa, you have another piece that I think we didn’t have consistency in last year,” Mallon said. “I think you have this post presence that can take the weight off the shoulders. Any coach is going to say when you have balanced scoring, you know you’re in good shape.”