- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 12, 2005

It was not easy, but the anticipated matchup between 13-time Colonial Athletic Association champion Old Dominion and regular-season champ Delaware will happen today.

Delaware rallied late in the second half to defeat fourth-seeded James Madison 62-57, and No.2 Old Dominion sneaked by third-seeded Drexel 64-63 in semifinals of the CAA women’s tournament last night at Patriot Center.

Though the Monarchs’ incredible string of tournament titles is an NCAA record, Delaware swept the season series this year, including a win at Old Dominion that snapped a 122-game home winning streak against CAA foes.

“Yes, we have [been waiting for this game],” Monarchs point guard Shareese Grant said. “They beat us twice. We’ve watched those films so many times. We have to play hard from the start.”

Old Dominion (21-8) raced out to an 11-0 run before the Dragons (19-10) rallied in the second half. There were eight ties and 10 lead changes, all in the final 11 minutes.

Grant, twice the Most Outstanding Player in this tournament, had an awful night from the field (two of 14) but made two free throws with 67 seconds left to put the Monarchs ahead.

Drexel had three chances in the final minute, but two missed shots and a jump ball turnover with 3.5 seconds left sent the Dragons home just short of a stunning upset.

“We said defense was going to win this game, and it sure paid off,” Grant said. “We huddled together, and I said we had to play defense. I think there were five seconds left. We do drills in practice where we have to play defense for 30 seconds, so five-second defense wasn’t anything.”

Tiara Malcom, the CAA Player of the Year, scored 22 points, and Fairfax native Tiffany Young notched a double-double (18 points, 12 rebounds) as Delaware (25-4) gained the CAA title game for the second time in its four years in the league. Old Dominion has defeated Delaware in the tournament each of the last two seasons.

“We’re not the most talented team in this league — anybody can see that,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said. “These kids have a lot of heart, and they bring it to the floor every single day. That was a display of it. It would be one thing if we stepped on the floor and we were like the Fab Five or something, but we’re not. We deserve to be in the championship game because we kill ourselves.”

James Madison (18-11) led by as many as eight in the second half before Delaware switched to a full-court press. The trapping pressure forced the Dukes out of their offensive rhythm, and they weren’t able to hold off the Blue Hens’ charge in the final minutes.

“We changed up our presses, and we shot some gaps,” Martin said. “We put them back on their heels because they certainly were the aggressors at the beginning of the game and for more than half of the game.”

When the Blue Hens switched to the press, the momentum shifted. James Madison turned the ball over four times in less than two minutes as the comfortable lead quickly evaporated.

Young, a Fairfax native, was a starter at the beginning of the season but now comes off the bench and provides instant offense. She had a pair of baskets in the final five minutes as the Blue Hens scored the final 10 points.

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