April Madness: Dragons Reach Final Four of Women's National Invitation Tournament
April 1, 2013
Senior Hollie Mershon scored 19 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and handed out seven assists in the Dragons' WNIT quarterfinal victory over Auburn.
Drexel used one of its best defensive efforts of the season to topple the Auburn Tigers 56-43 and earn a trip to the Final Four of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament and continue its historic season. The Dragons, led by senior Hollie Mershon’s 19-point, 13-rebound effort, will face the Florida Gators in the tournament semifinal on Wednesday, April 3 at 7 p.m.
The Dragons’ defense, which is ranked among the top 10 in the nation, held Auburn scoreless for the final 11 minutes of the first half while building an 18-point lead that proved to be insurmountable. Drexel led for all but five minutes and 16 seconds of the game and held the Tigers to an ice-cold 27.4 percent shooting on the night.
Junior Fiona Flanagan added 13 points, including a key three-pointer with two and a half minutes to play that quashed Auburn’s hopes of a rally. Senior Taylor Wootton put in 12 points, while her classmate Renee Johnson-Allen turned in a sterling defensive effort and chipped in five points, five rebounds and a pair of steals.
Although Auburn held a distinct size advantage over Drexel, the Tigers’ cold shooting helped the Dragons pull down a season-high 41 rebounds, led by Mershon’s 13 and a career-high six boards from freshman Megan Creighton.
Auburn scored the game's first five points in the first 1:21 of play, but Drexel quickly righted itself with a 10-0 run that gave the Dragons a lead they would not relinquish. Flanagan put Drexel on the board with a three-pointer from the corner, and Mershon tied things up with a short jumper. Wootton followed with a lay-up to give Drexel a 7-5 lead, and forty seconds later, Johnson-Allen hit a three-pointer from left side that put Drexel up 10-5.
The Tigers pulled back within two points on a three-pointer at the 11:13 mark. But that would be the last field goal Auburn would manage in the first half. Drexel rattled off the next nine points before Auburn hit a free throw with 4:23 to play in the half. Drexel responded with eight more points heading into halftime, capped by a three-pointer from Rachel Pearson that gave the Dragons a commanding 30-12 lead at the break.
The second half had a similar start to the first, with Auburn knocking down the period's first six points and forcing a timeout call by Head Coach Denise Dillon. Leading 30-18, Drexel got itself steadied with a bucket from Johnson-Allen, who drove the baseline and scooped in a lay-up.
Drexel grabbed its biggest lead of the night with 7:45 to play when Flanagan knocked down a jumper to make it 47-26. From there, the Tigers began to claw their way back. They scored 11 of the next 13 points, cutting Drexel's lead to 49-37 with 3:02 remaining. But after a Drexel timeout, Flanagan found herself open in the corner and knocked down her third three-pointer of the game to seal Drexel’s victory.
With the win, Drexel returns home to host a 22-14 Florida Gators squad in the semifinals of the WNIT. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. Tickets are available at the DAC Ticket Office, by visiting www.DrexelTickets.com, or calling 1-866-4-DREXEL.