The Drexel Dragons got off to a quick start against Charleston, leading 24-11 after one quarter and 40-18 at halftime before cruising to a 71-65 win and a spot for the top-seeded Dragons in their fourth consecutive Colonial Athletic Association Tournament title game.
Keishana Washington’s 25 points and Tessa Brugler’s 22 led the Drexel (26-4, 16-2) attack. Washington’s 25 give her 153 for her career in CAA Tournament games, breaking the school record held by Gabriela Marginean.
Charleston (18-13, 9-9) was led by Jenna Annecchiarico with 24 points and Arynn Eady with 11.
Early start for the Dragons
The Dragons set the tone from the tip with a steal from Mariah Leonard in Charleston’s first possession, then a blocked shot from Brugler inside the paint, and a steal from Washington, all plays that took place in the game’s first three minutes.
“We started off a little slow last time and now all around we wanted to set the tone and go straight after Charleston,” coach Amy Mallon said. “We had two tough games with them from earlier in the year so we knew it was gonna be a battle.”
Both of the teams’ previous meetings this season were one-point affairs (61-60 Drexel, 74-73 Charleston). This time the Dragons took a 13-point lead after one quarter.
The Dragons started the second quarter with a 7-0 run with Charleston not getting its first basket until four minutes were left in the period.
Drexel held the CAA’s top-scoring offense to just seven points in the second quarter and 18 in the half, a number that matched Washington’s first-half output.
The Brugler takeover
Washington dominated the first half for the Dragons, but in the second half, it was Brugler.
Charleston had no answer for her in the paint. She finished with 16 rebounds and two steals. The 16 boards are a Drexel CAA Tournament single-game record.
“We knew what we had to do and that strong start really helped us and it went onto the offensive end,” Brugler said.
Lackluster defensive showing from Charleston
Fans watching only this game between the two teams wouldn’t be able to tell that Charleston was the No. 2 team in the conference in blocked shots and No. 1 in steals.
The Cougars finished with only two blocks and two steals in the game.
“It’s safe to say we got beat by a really good team,” said Charleston coach Robin Harmony. “Our transition defense we were horrendous at it and if you make a mistake on Drexel, who is such a good team, they’re gonna find a weakness and they sure did today.”
The Drexel Dragons will look to repeat as CAA champions as they head into the title game Sunday at 1 p.m. against Delaware, a 56-55 winner over Towson in the other semifinal.