COMMENTARY: Delaware to run into its top rival again

By Sean Greene 7:06pm, March 16, 2013
VIDEO: Highlights of Delaware vs. Drexel in Newark
If styles make fights, than Delaware should be in for an exciting slugfest against No. 3 Drexel in the CAA Championship Game Sunday at 2pm.

The Blue Hens and Dragons met twice during the regular season, with Delaware winning 65-56 in Philadelphia and 62-57 in Newark just two weeks ago.

Both teams have outstanding guards with solid all-around games in Delaware's Elena Delle Donne and Drexel's Mollie Mershon.

Drexel's senior willed her team back from a 12 point deficit with 5:53 left in regulation to actually tie the 2nd meeting before the Hens scored the last five points of the game. Mershon finished with 26 points on the evening, although she took 30 shots to get those points.

The Dragons have had a good game plan against Delle Donne in both meetings, playing her with tight defense and "limiting" her to 18-of-50 shooting (36 percent) in the two games, although she averaged 26 points in the contests.

A pair of X-Factor type players to watch are Lauren Carra and Rachel Pearson.

Carra broke out with a 3-for-6 performance from distance against the Dragons in Newark, finishing with a season-high 21 points after she had scored just 22 points in the four previous games total. If any Delaware player, Kayla Miller and Trumae Lucas included, can get hot from behind the arc, that would stretch out the Dragons defense, and force them to decide to continue to make life hard for Delle Donne, or surrender looks from quality shooters.

For Drexel, it could be a matter of who wants to step up on the big stage. Pearson has had a relatively quiet campaign, but not against the Blue Hens. The freshman went 3-for-4 from distance in both meetings against the Blue Hens. Also, Taylor Wooton must find a way to avoid foul trouble. In both games guarding Delle Donne she quickly picked up two first half fouls, limiting her minutes, which hurts the Dragons on both ends of the floor.

The games are also usually low scoring. Not surprising of a team that allowed just 34 points to a solid James Madison team Saturday, Drexel coach Denise Dillon emphasizes defense, just like Delaware's Tina Martin does.

In the past 10 years of this rivalry there have been three games where neither team cracked 50 points, including last season's 40-39 Delaware win in Philadelphia where Delle Donne had to hit a 12-foot baseline jumper at the buzzer to escapse.

Plenty is on the line. For Drexel, this is their one shot at the NCAA Tournament, and a chance to send out their fantastic senior class in style.

For Delaware, they could make it 21-0 in the CAA, including the post-season, for a second straight year, in the last CAA game for their Sensational Seven.

Space will be limited on the floor Sunday, so could the distance of the potential outcome. After all, who wants to see 2 boxers never get close to each other?

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