VIDEO: Blue Hens repeat as CAA Champions
Delaware's Trumae Lucas hit two free throws with 44 seconds remaining, as Delaware overcame a second powerful rally to defeat Drexel 59-56 and claim their second straight Colonial Athletic Association Title.
The Blue Hens took big leads in both halves, 12 in the first, and 17 in the second, only to see their archrivals from Philadelphia come storming back. Drexel made it a one point game just before halftime, and then actually took the lead with 1:12 to go in the game on Taylor Wootton's 4th 3-pointer of the game.
After a Delaware timeout, Lucas then drove the left side of the lane, and attacked Drexel's Abby Redick, who was called for a blocking foul. Delaware's senior then calmly went to the line and sank both free throws to give Delaware the advantage.
Drexel then called timeout, but Redick turned the ball over thanks to stern Delaware defensive pressure.
Elena Delle Donne then hit a pair of free throws to make it a three point game with 9 seconds left.
All-CAA performer Hollie Mershon took the inbounds pass, and dribbled the ball across halfcourt before she lost control of the basketball into the hands of Elena Delle Donne, who then tossed the ball towards the roof of the Show Place Arena before catching Kayla Miller in her arms to start of a frenzied celebration of Delaware's second straight 21-0 run in the conference.
The Blue Hens (30-3) started the game on fire, using a 15-5 run to open up a 21-9 advantage at the 10:46 mark of the frst half following a Lucas three-pointer, the final of 8 straight at the end of the run.
Drexel (22-10), who amazingly fell behind big on each of the 6 halves the teams played this season, came roaring back late in the half, as they were able to clamp down defensively on Elena Delle Donne and get Mershon open for some jumpers.
The Dragons only trailed 30-27 at the break, and were leading 10-4 in points in the paint.
Kayla Miller's half-ending basket for Delaware on a backside rebound was a catalyst for Delaware however, as the Hens raced out to a 46-29 advantage on the heels of an 18-2 run over just 5:24 of game play.
Drexel called timeout, substituted Taylor Wootton back into the game, and everything quickly changed.
The forward used a solid inside and outside mix including 3-4 from 3-point range and 3 blocks to change the complexion completely in a 27-9 run that pushed them to the 56-55 advantage. As a team Drexel was 7-for-13 from long-range in the 2nd half, with Mershon also hitting 2 of her 3 attempts from distance.
Ultimately it would be Delaware's poise which won the day, and their 4th ticket to the NCAA Dance, with 3 coming as a conference champion.
Elena Delle Donne finished with 28 points to earn CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors, while Lauren Carra recorded 10 rebounds and 6 assists despite what Tina Martin called a bruised hand during the post-game press conference. Lucas also was named to the All-Tournament team thanks to her 12 points off the bench.
Drexel was led by Wootton with 21 points and 18 from Mershon.
Delaware will learn their opponent for the NCAA Tournament when the Field of 64 is announced Monday night on ESPN at 7pm.
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