Drexel University's women's basketball team heads to 2024 March Madness NCAA tournament after winning CAA against Stoney Brook

Drexel University’s Women’s Basketball Team Secures Spot in 2024 March Madness with CAA Victory Over Stony Brook

In Philadelphia, Amaris Baker and Brooke Mullin showcased their exceptional long-distance shooting skills, leading Drexel to a surprising 68-60 victory over Stony Brook in the Coastal Athletic Association Tournament’s championship game on Sunday. This win secured Drexel’s place in the NCAA Tournament for the third time.

Drexel, as the seventh seed, repeated history by winning the CAA, following in the footsteps of another seventh seed from the previous year. Meanwhile, Stony Brook, despite being a top seed, couldn’t break the pattern of top seeds failing to clinch the tournament title since 2017.

Baker shone brightly with 19 points, including a remarkable 4 of 5 from beyond the three-point line. Mullin, a graduate transfer from Villanova and niece of NBA Hall-of-Famer Chris Mullin, contributed significantly with 16 points, hitting 4 out of her 9 attempts from three-point range. Erin Sweeney also stood out, scoring a career-high 16 points for the Dragons, who extended their winning streak to seven games. Remarkably, their journey to the championship included three closely contested wins in the CAA Tournament by a mere total of five points. They previously won the championship in 2021 as a three seed.

Coach Amy Mallon praised the team’s resilience, especially during their last four games. Despite being a year of rebuilding, the team proved that unity and determination could turn them into a Cinderella story. Without any player making the all-conference team, they still emerged as winners, showcasing the power of teamwork.

The Dragons were exceptional from the three-point line, making 11 out of 19 attempts. This performance marked their third game of the season with double-digit three-pointers, achieving their second-highest total and surpassing the 50% mark. Overall, they shot 23 of 46 from the field.

Gigi Gonzalez, the CAA Player of the Year, scored 19 points for Stony Brook, which saw its nine-game winning streak come to an end. Despite their efforts, Stony Brook last participated in the NCAA Tournament in 2021 as champions of the American East Conference. Other notable contributions came from Victoria Keenan with 14 points, Khari Clark with 12 points and 13 rebounds, and Shamarla King with 10 points.

A crucial moment came when Baker landed a three-pointer, followed by Hetta Saatman’s jumper, giving Drexel a 64-50 lead in the fourth quarter. Despite Stony Brook’s full-court pressure causing Drexel to struggle with turnovers and limiting their field goal attempts, the Dragons managed to maintain their lead. The game’s intensity peaked in the final minute with multiple turnovers from both teams.

Stony Brook’s efforts to close the gap were thwarted as they missed crucial layups, while Grace O’Neill’s free throws in the final seconds sealed the victory for Drexel.

Stony Brook struggled with their shooting throughout the game, finishing 5 of 22 from behind the arc and shooting 31% overall. Drexel, playing only seven players, saw five of them finishing with four fouls each.

Drexel’s defensive efforts were evident from the start, forcing eight turnovers and limiting Stony Brook to 3-for-16 shooting in the first quarter, establishing a 16-9 lead. Despite Stony Brook’s struggles, they managed to keep the game within reach, but Drexel’s timely three-pointers, especially O’Neill’s buzzer-beater, shifted the momentum back to the Dragons.

This victory not only highlights Drexel’s resilience and teamwork but also sets the stage for their participation in the NCAA Tournament, proving that determination and unity can lead to remarkable achievements.