- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2009

HARRISONBURG, VA. (AP) - Old Dominion’s NCAA-record reign at the top of the Colonial Athletic Association has ended after 17 consecutive seasons.

Top-seeded Drexel got 20 points from CAA player of the year Gabriela Marginean on Saturday and beat the Lady Monarchs 62-41 in the semifinals of the league tournament. It is the first loss for Old Dominion in 52 CAA tournament games since it joined the league in 1991-92.

The Dragons (23-8) went ahead to stay when two free throws by Marginean gave them a 14-13 lead with 6:48 left in the first half. They led by as many as 12 on their way to becoming the first team since Richmond in 1990-91 to win the tournament and its automatic NCAA bid.

The Lady Monarchs were led by Jasmine Parker with 14 points and Jessica Canady with 11, but they shot just 26 percent.

Signs of a changing of the guard in the CAA had been more evident this year than in any previous season. Old Dominion had never lost more than five games in league play before going just 11-7 this year, and their defeats included only their third at home in 165 CAA games, a 72-67 setback to James Madison on Jan. 25, and their first in 44 meetings with George Mason, 63-57 on Feb. 22.

The latter was their third in a row, just the third such streak they’ve had.

This year, the Lady Monarchs were the last team to gain a first-round bye in the tournament, and they almost didn’t make it through the quarterfinals. On Friday, they led N.C.-Wilmington by 10 with 2:36 left before the Seahawks closed to within 58-56 with 54 seconds to play. Old Dominion hung on to win by five, but it was a different story on Saturday.

Using a deliberate offensive style and a defense that closed off the inside, the Dragons rode the inside scoring of Marginean to a 26-22 halftime lead. Drexel opened the second half with a 10-2 run to stretch its lead to 36-24 and the Lady Monarchs got no closer than seven.

They were outrebounded 37-30 and committed 21 turnovers that led to 18 Drexel points.

Jasmina Rosseel added 12 points and Nicole Hester had 10 for Drexel, which will play the winner of the second semifinal between James Madison and Virginia Commonwealth on Sunday.

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