In a back-and-forth thriller, the postseason run of Drexel women’s team came to an end on Thursday night as the Dragons fell to the Seton Hall Pirates, 78-71, in the Sweet 16 game of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
In Drexel’s (28-6) first road game of the tournament, traveling to its neighbor state of South Orange, N.J., the Dragons couldn’t overcome the home-court advantage and defensive pressure put on from the Pirates.
Lauren Park-Lane led Seton Hall (21-12, 12-8) with 29 points and 11 assists. Sidney Cooks followed with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
The Dragons were led by fifth year senior Hannah Nihill with 20 points and four assists, followed by a strong showing from senior Mariah Leonard with 16 points and six rebounds. It was her second consecutive performance in double-digits.
Drexel shooting woes
From the start of the game the Dragons struggled to establish their three-point shooting early on, going 0-3 from beyond the arc in their first trio of possessions.
The Dragons shot 30 percent from three (3-10) compared to the Pirates, who had an early three point surge from Andra Espinoza-Hunter. She made three of Seton Hall’s baskets from beyond the arc and finished with a total of 12 points. Seton Hall shot more efficiently — 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from three — going into the second half.
Drexel finished the game shooting 45 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc.
Fourth quarter resurgence for Seton Hall
The Dragons came into the third quarter with a different tempo. Instead of forcing threes, the Dragons dominated inside the paint, and took their first lead of the night with two minutes remaining in the third quarter, 45-44.
Drexel ended the third quarter hitting five of their last six before heading into the fourth with a four point lead. The Dragons rode off this momentum into the fourth, generating a 18-5 run against the Pirates.
The Pirates went cold before reestablishing what carried them through the game, the three ball. With a lead that stretched out to nine points, the Pirates hit the gas in crunch time with four minutes left in regulation and outscored the Dragons 31-20 in the fourth. After shooting only 33.3 percent from both the field and from three, the Pirates had their best offensive showing in the fourth quarter--shooting 78.6 percent from the field and 80 percent from three.
Pirates Defensive Pressure
Utilizing a full court press and trap early on, the Pirates found excellent results. They strayed away from this in the third quarter and in the start of the fourth, when Drexel rallied.
Going back to their defensive pressure in the second half of the fourth, Seton Hall caused four costly Dragons turnovers with minutes left in the game.
No answer for Park-Lane
The Dragons seemed to have no answer for Park-Lane. Park-Lane has been dominant in the WNIT, averaging 25 points per game.
Starting slow with just two points in the first quarter coming from the free throw line, Park-Lane took over in the second quarter and for the remainder of the game. Movement off the ball led to open threes that the Drexel Dragons couldn’t answer. Park-Lane went five for eight from three, finishing with 29 for the night.
The Dragons close out a historic season, finishing with a 28-6 record. Seton Hall moves on to the Elite Eight to face the Columbia Lions.