William and Mary looked to bounce back from a 70-59 loss to Delaware at home in a game where the Tribe never led when it welcomed Drexel to Kaplan Arena. The College was 7-0 in its previous seven games following losses this season. The Dragons came into the contest with a perfect 8-0 record in true road games and as one of the top teams in the Colonial Athletic Association with a six-game winning streak.
Feb. 3, the Dragons (15-5, 7-2 CAA) pushed their winning streak to seven, as the College (11-9, 4-5 CAA) suffered a dramatic 62-58 setback.
The Tribe was scoreless on its first two possessions but senior guard Bianca Boggs gave the College an early lead on the its first three-pointer of the afternoon. Boggs was able to force a steal on the ensuing possession, leading to two free throws for freshman guard Eva Hodgson. The Dragons, who led 2-0 in the opening minutes, were able to creep back within one on a couple of occasions early in the first quarter, but the College still held a 9-6 lead at the 5:41 mark after a Drexel turnover. The Tribe led by as much as five before guard Hannah Nihill stopped the bleeding with a three-pointer to make the score 11-9 at the media timeout.
“I was real happy with our intensity and our effort level coming out of the gate,” head coach Ed Swanson said.
The College upped its lead to four points out of the timeout, but the Dragons responded with five-straight points to take their second lead of the game, 14-13, with just over a minute to play in the quarter. The Tribe was unable to score for the remainder of the quarter and the Dragons held a 17-13 edge after 10 minutes.
Redshirt sophomore guard Harper Birdsong finally ended the College’s scoring drought with a three-pointer to open the second quarter, but forward Niki Metzel answered with a layup at the other end to keep the Dragons up by three. The Tribe continued to get back within one point of the lead, but the Dragons were able to answer with a basket on each occasion, leading to a 23-20 Dragons lead at the six-minute mark of the second quarter. Nevertheless, the College regained the lead at the midway point of the quarter on a layup by junior forward Victoria Reynolds off an assist by Boggs. That lead lasted for just 23 seconds, though, and the Dragons were back on top 31-26 at the media timeout with 2:48 to play before halftime. Boggs scored the College’s next four points after the timeout, but the Dragons still clung to a 34-30 advantage as the clock ticked under one minute to play. Second-chance points really cost the Tribe in the waning minutes of the half, allowing the Dragons to extend their lead to 36-30 at the break.
Neither was able to score for almost two minutes to start the third quarter, but sophomore guard Nyla Pollard got the College on the board first with a jumper. However, the Dragons answered immediately to push the lead back to six at the 7:38 mark. Freshman forward Emma Krause was able to slice that deficit in half with her first three-pointer of the game after missing her first four attempts. Drexel continued to struggle on the offensive end and Pollard scored again to make it 38-37 in favor of the Dragons with 5:53 left in the quarter. The Dragons called for a timeout and were able to bounce back with a basket by forward Bailey Greenberg. Nevertheless, the College finally pulled even at the 2:27 mark in a low-scoring quarter. Boggs completed a three-point play to tie the game at 40 with the Dragons only mustering four points in the first eight minutes of the quarter. The Dragons responded with five points in a 20-second span to reclaim a five-point advantage before Birdsong buried a three with 1:15 to play in the quarter. Birdsong hit another three on the next possession to get the College back within one point, 47-46, with 10 minutes left in the game.
The Dragons started the fourth quarter with a three-point play, but the College got back within two and had multiple chances to tie or take the lead before the Dragons finally scored again to go up 52-48 with just over seven minutes left in the game. The Tribe managed just two points in the first four minutes of the final quarter but a strong defensive effort kept it within four points at the 5:40 mark of the fourth quarter. Birdsong cut the Dragons’ lead to two again on two free throws, but guard Keishana Washington responded with a clutch three to push the edge to five points, 55-50, at the final media timeout. As the clock ticked under four minutes, Boggs drove to the basket for a layup to pull the Tribe back within one possession. Nevertheless, the Dragons had the answer again with another three by Washington. Birdsong nearly brought the deficit back to one point, but her three came up just short and Greenberg scored at the other end to give the Dragons a six-point advantage with two minutes to play.
The College enacted a full court press to force a several costly turnovers down the stretch and two free throws from Hodgson brought the Tribe within two points, 60-58, with 44 seconds remaining. The Dragons missed a jumper that would have put them up by two possessions and then failed to take advantage of an offensive rebound, allowing the Tribe to finally secure the defensive rebound and call a timeout with 14.8 seconds left. Boggs received the inbounds pass and tried to tie the game with the layup but it was heavily contested and the Dragons came up with the rebound, forcing the Tribe to foul to extend the game. Metzel knocked down a pair of free throws to essentially seal the Dragons’ 62-58 win.
The Dragons were led by Greenberg’s double-double on 24 points and 11 rebounds.
“[Greenberg is] a great player,” Swanson said. “She can score in a variety of different ways. … I have a lot of respect for her, she’s a terrific player.”
In the loss, the College had three players in double-figures. Boggs led all scorers with 17 points on just 10 shots. She came up one rebound short of a double-double with nine boards. Birdsong and Hodgson added 15 and 12 points, respectively. The Tribe will look to get back on track next weekend with two road games at Charleston and North Carolina-Wilmington. The College lost to the Cougars at home, but the Tribe will look to avoid another upset on Friday evening.
“We’ve proven we can win on the road,” Swanson said. “This team just has to keep maturing and keep getting better.”