HARRISONBURG, Va. (March 15, 2009) – Behind a game-high tying 26 points from senior forward Gabriela Marginean, top-seeded Drexel captured its first-ever CAA Women’s Basketball Championship with a 64-58 victory against #3 James Madison on Sunday at the James Madison University Convocation Center in Harrisonburg, Va.
Drexel (24-8), which won its first CAA tournament title in any sport since joining the conference in 2001-02, tied a school record with its 16th-straight victory. James Madison, which made its third CAA championship game appearance in the last four years, has not captured a CAA women’s basketball title since 1989.
Sophomore guard Dawn Evans scored 17 of her 26 points in the second half to pace James Madison (23-9), while sophomore forward Jalissa Taylor contributed a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Marginean was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Performer, while teammates Jasmina Rosseel and Andrea Peterson, as well as James Madison’s Evans were selected to the All-Tournament team. Towson’s Shanae Baker-Brice and VCU’s Quanitra Hollingsworth also received tournament team honors.
Holding a one-point advantage with 14:10 left in the opening period, James Madison used a pair of three pointers from Evans and sophomore guard Courtney Hamner to go up 14-7 two minutes later.
The Dukes pulled ahead by eight with 11:20 to go before Drexel reeled off nine straight points to take its first lead of the game at 17-16 on a three-pointer by Rosseel with 8:15 to go.
The Dragons pushed their lead to nine points with just over two minutes remaining on a jumper by freshman guard Marisa Crane, capping off a 20-3 Drexel run, spanning nearly nine minutes. James Madison managed just three free throws from sophomore forward Jalissa Taylor during the Dragons’ run.
Senior guard Kisha Stokes converted a shot from the line and Evans drove through the lane for a layup with 30 seconds remaining to pull James Madison within 28-22 at the break.
Drexel scored eight of the first 10 points to start the second half, extending its lead to 36-24 on a pair of free throws by Peterson with 17:27 left.
Trailing by 16 points with 11:52 remaining, James Madison went on a 12-3 spurt over the next six minutes to pull within 47-40. Taylor contributed six points for the Dukes during the run.
The Dragons went back up by eight on a layup by Marginean with 1:55 to go before Evans hit back-to-back three-pointers to get James Madison within four points at 53-49 with 56.9 seconds showing.
Drexel went back up by eight after Marginean connected on four-straight free throws with 44.6 seconds remaining.
Evans, who scored the final 15 points of the contest for the Dukes, pulled James Madison within four points on three occasions the remainder of the game, but it was as close as JMU would get.
The announced attendance of 3,363 fans was the second highest mark at the James Madison University Convocation Center this year. A total of 10,895 fans were in attendance during the four-day tournament.
The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Selection Show will air Monday on ESPN at 7 p.m. with ESPNU offering bonus coverage from 8-9 p.m.