Sunday, Feb. 4, William and Mary women’s basketball (10-10, 6-3 CAA) put on an absolute show, beating Drexel (10-10, 5-4 CA) 75-62 in its annual Gold Rush game at Kaplan Arena in Williamsburg, Va.
In front of a gold-flooded crowd, the Tribe dominated almost every aspect of the game.
Sunday’s matchup began blistering hot for the Tribe, who started the game in a lethal full-court trap. After a series of quick defensive stops, sophomore guard Alexa Mikeska started the scoring for the Tribe, knocking down one of two free throws after drawing a foul. Immediately after, Mikeska picked the pocket of a Drexel guard, setting up senior forward Rebekah Frisby-Smith for her first three-point make of the day.
Frisby-Smith, who finished Sunday’s game with three three-point field goals, commented on the Tribe’s fiery start after the game.
“We just had energy and were feeling it,” Frisby-Smith said. “I don’t know what we did differently, but it was great.”
After the Tribe took an early 6-0 lead, Drexel graduate forward Hetta Saatman finally put the Dragons on the board. Graduate forward Nylah Young quickly extended the Tribe’s lead with a layup, her first of many points on the day.
The Tribe capitalized on its defense throughout the first quarter. Possession after possession, the Green and Gold forced the Dragons to turn the ball over, leading to easy fast-break baskets and breakaway threes early on. By the end of the first quarter, Drexel turned the ball over seven times and found itself down by nine, shooting only 30% from the field.
The second quarter started with yet another Dragon turnover. After coming up empty despite two offensive rebounds, the Tribe finally got on the board after a crafty pass from Young found Mikeska, who cut toward the basket for an easy layup. Mikeska added another tough layup through contact on the next offensive possession, extending the lead to 13 with just under seven minutes left in the half. Just as quickly as the Tribe momentum took off in the first quarter, the Tribe went cold, allowing the Dragons to crawl back to just a six-point deficit entering the half.
In the third quarter, the Tribe wasted no time reestablishing the lead it once had. The Tribe picked the Dragon’s defense apart, finding open forwards all over the court for easy layups. Junior forward Anahi-Lee Cauley started the scoring in the second half with an easy layup, courtesy of a Mikeska assist. Frisby-Smith then knocked down another three-point shot, just before Mikeska found Young for another strong look inside the paint. After a brief lapse on the defensive end, Young capitalized on an and-one, finishing through the contact and converting the free throw to extend the Tribe’s lead to 39-27.
Young dominated the paint all day, finishing with a game-high 27 points.
When asked about her impressive offensive production, Young attributed her success to staying focused on helping the team win.
“I've been trying to focus on what I need to do to be better for the team, like throughout the week,” Young said. “I've really been trying to focus in and am glad it kind of showed today.”
Young also praised her teammates for giving her the opportunity to contribute to Sunday’s success.
“I'm really grateful for my teammates, that they were passing me the ball,” Young said.
Junior guard Bella Nascimento and freshman guard Monet Dance also contributed valuable minutes for the Tribe on Sunday. In 30 minutes, Nascimento totaled 13 points, four assists and a whopping three steals. Dance, a true freshman, assisted on five Tribe baskets in just 11 minutes, also swiping two steals along the way.
When asked about Dance’s performance on Sunday, head coach Erin Dickerson Davis had nothing but praise toward her freshman guard.
“I could not be more proud of Mo,” Dickerson Davis said. “She's yelling. She's talking to her teammates. Monet just plays with a lot of energy, and so when she starts to get these assists, her energy just kind of turns up, and then everybody else's energy turns up.”
After a 11-point third from Young, the Tribe entered the fourth quarter with momentum, leading 52-40 with just 10 minutes left in the game. To the Tribe’s dismay, however, the Dragons continued to fight back. After converting on an and-one of their own and knocking down multiple tough shots from inside the paint, with just under six minutes left in the game, the Dragons successfully cut the Tribe’s lead to single digits.
Despite the visitor’s attempts, the Green and Gold had no intention of giving up its lead. After buckets from senior center Kayla Beckwith, Nascimento and freshman guard Cassidy Geddes, William and Mary finished the game on top, winning 75-62 in front of a roaring home crowd.
“This was definitely a team win,” Dickerson Davis said. “We had almost four people in double figures, and almost everyone that played scored today. It’s a true team effort.”
The Tribe looks to keep the strong interconference play going as it travels to the Bob Carpenter Center to face Delaware Feb. 9 in Newark, Del.