With less than half a minute to go in the fourth quarter, William and Mary senior forward Victoria Reynolds stared down the court, watching Drexel forward Niki Metzel sink two free throws, finally pulling out of the Tribe’s reach for the last time. Reynolds had done her best to keep the Tribe in the game, recording 13 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, leading her team in all three categories, but without other offensive support, the Tribe could not pull ahead, losing to the Dragons 61-54.
Sunday, Jan. 26, the Tribe (13-6, 4-4 CAA) met the Dragons (13-6, 6-1 CAA) at Kaplan Arena for what looked to be a fiery matchup. The Dragons came to Williamsburg with a five-game win streak, and the Tribe looked to defend a fledgling streak of their own.
And defense was the theme of the first period. The Dragons were extremely effective at closing the Tribe’s passing lanes, and the final score of the quarter reflected that: 17-7, Dragons. The Dragons engaged in a full court press, suffocating the College’s offense. They scored 10 points on turnovers alone, while the College failed to reach double digits overall. Drexel forced Tribe mistakes by closing passing lanes and forcing mistakes.
Nine of the 17 points the Dragons scored went unanswered to open the period. Sophomore guard Eva Hodgson opened scoring for the Tribe almost four minutes into the quarter with a three-pointer. That basket was almost half of the Tribe’s final score for the quarter.
Head coach Ed Swanson weighed in on the oppressive defense.
“They are really tough, stingy defenders. It’s tough to score on them,” Swanson said. “I thought those first couple minutes, they really knocked us back on our heels, and it took some time to recover. We couldn’t get anything in transition — everything was tough. It was like a root canal each offensive set.”
The Tribe got its feet back under it in the second period, outscoring the Dragons 19-13, for a score of 30-26 at the half. Despite multiple opportunities to surge ahead, several ill-timed fouls and key turnovers from the Dragons kept the College behind.
Reynolds shone in the third period, notching six points and four assists in that 10 minutes alone. Unfortunately, the Tribe gave up nine points on free throws, while only getting one in return. In other words, it didn’t capitalize on Reynolds’s offensive production.
“It was great to get her going there in the second half,” Swanson said of Reynolds. “That’s one thing we talked about at halftime, that we have to get our players going.”
The Dragons let up a bit on defense, allowing the Tribe to even the score twice. The home crowd was excited to motivate the Tribe past the tie plateau, but the Tribe never took the lead.
The teams headed into the fourth quarter with a score of 43-41. One minute and eight seconds into the period, Reynolds dumped in a ball in the paint to tie the score once again. Metzel took the next four points herself, with a combination of free throws and jumpers, and the Dragons pushed the score all the way up to 53-43 before the Tribe answered. At that point, it was too late for a comeback surge, even though Reynolds netted seven points. Six Dragon free throws later, the game was over.
Swanson attributed the loss to the first period effort.
“We didn’t come out of the gate the way I was hoping. I thought we showed lack of focus. We didn’t have lack of energy — I thought we were playing hard, but lack of focus and lack of discipline forced me to call a quick timeout down 7-0,” he said. “We can’t play from behind again against a good Drexel team like that because they run their stuff.”
There were some positive statistics to come out of this loss. Reynolds notched her third double-double this year. Hodgson also put up double figures, extending her 20-game streak, with 12 points and eight assists.
The Tribe has a week off before it faces Elon (9-10, 4-4 CAA) in North Carolina, Jan. 31.