W&M women look to bounce back after first CAA defeat

WILLIAMSBURG – The William and Mary women’s basketball team will try to avoid its first two-game skid of the season when it returns to the court Friday at Northeastern.

The Tribe dropped its third match of the season, first in Colonial Athletic Association play and first somewhere other than Richmond Sunday in a 67-50 loss at home to Drexel (6-8, 2-1 CAA), which got a career-best 31 points from senior Sarah Curran.

Sophomore center Abby Rendle also had a career-high 23 points for William and Mary (11-3, 2-1), which responded to its first defeat of the season Nov. 20 at the University of Richmond with a six-game win streak and then won three straight after a Dec. 21 setback at VCU.

“I think this team will respond,” William and Mary coach Ed Swanson said. “They’ve responded all year. They responded last year after tough losses.”

Drexel’s fast start proved to be too much for the Tribe to overcome. The Dragons never trailed and led 19-9 after the first quarter, outshooting William and Mary 43.8 percent to 28.6 in the opening frame while sinking 3 of 7 3-point shots to the Tribe’s one.

In about a six-minute stretch spanning the first and second periods, Drexel went on an 11-2 run to stretch its lead to 26-11, capped by a Rachel Pearson 3-pointer from the left corner.

The Dragons, which led the league in 3-point shooting entering Sunday’s contest, were coming off an overtime loss at home to Northeastern on Friday.

“They were angrier,” Swanson said. “They played with more emotion than we did. You have to give Drexel a lot of credit. They really came after us.”

“I think it was just the effort we were lacking in the first half,” Rendle said.

Curran never cooled off, shooting 12 of 18 from the field for the game and 4 of 7 from 3-point range while playing every minute. The 5-foot-11 Media, Pa. native was also instrumental in quelling William and Mary’s second-half comeback attempt.

The Tribe narrowed the margin to 43-39 on a layup from freshman Bianca Boggs, but Curran answered on the other end with one of her three second-half 3-pointers. In the final 20 minutes, she scored 19 of Drexel's 30 points, missing only one shot and tallying nine-straight points to extend the visitors’ fourth-quarter lead to 59-42.

William and Mary’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer Alexandra Masaquel played only 12 minutes and sat out the second half with an illness.

Drexel, which came in ranked near the bottom of the league in rebounding, finished with a 45-26 edge.

“The players in the Drexel locker room had more to do with our loss tonight than Alex being out,” Swanson said.

Swanson felt that way, at least in part, due to the performance of Jeanne Gaumont, who had a career-high 10 points plus five rebounds. The 6-foot sophomore gave the Tribe a lift in Masaquel’s absence, knocking down three of her six 3-point attempts.

“She’s a good team player, a good passer,” Swanson said. “She’s been slow to get off to a good rhythm so far this year, but I’m happy to see the last two games really, her starting to get into rhythm. We’re going to need her down the stretch here.”

William and Mary heads to Hofstra Sunday after Friday’s game and returns home next Friday against UNC Wilmington.
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-345-2352.

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