RICHMOND — Drexel won its 18th consecutive game Saturday, utilizing its girth and efficiency to dismantle UNC Wilmington in the second half of a 59-47 victory in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament quarterfinals.
After a sluggish start, the top-seeded Dragons (26-5) embarked on an 11-2 run bridging the halves and methodically subdued the No. 9 Seahawks (10-21) to advance to a Sunday semifinal at 2 p.m. against fourth-seeded Old Dominion at Richmond Coliseum.
Last week, Drexel edged the Monarchs, 73-72, in a regular season finale in Norfolk.
Against UNCW, Drexel’s lead grew to 18 midway through the second half and, with the Dragons committing just two turnovers in the first 35 minutes and six overall, the outcome was never in jeopardy.
“I told them after the game that we’ve done some things we haven’t done all season,” Drexel’s Bruiser Flint, the CAA coach of the year, said of his team’s lackluster first half. “When we did what we usually do, we put the game away.”
The Dragons posted massive advantages in inside scoring (34-8) and second-chance points (18-0). They also prevented UNCW’s Keith Rendleman, the CAA’s second-leading rebounder at 10.4 per game, from gathering any boards over his 34 minutes and held the Seahawks to 26.9 percent shooting after intermission.
“I never thought I would look down at a stats sheet and see zero rebounds” for Rendleman, Seahawks Coach Buzz Peterson said. “They’ve got the weight and the size to push you out.”
Chris Fouch led a typically balanced attack with 12 of his 14 points in the first half for the Dragons, who played without suspended starting guard Derrick Thomas.
Drexel, with only one senior, hasn’t lost since traveling to Georgia State on Jan. 2 and has yielded 60 points just four times during the streak. The Seahawks, who defeated No. 8 James Madison on Friday, lost 14 of their final 17 games.
●VCU 75, NORTHEASTERN 65: Despite a 7½-minute scoreless stretch and atrocious free throw shooting, the second-seeded Rams (26-6) smashed open a tight game with the No. 7 Huskies (14-17) and secured a semifinal berth against George Mason or Georgia State.
VCU, which has won 15 of 16, didn’t score in the last 6:16 of the first half and was tied at the break, 26-26. Bradford Burgess’s three-pointer ended the rut with 18:44 left, sparking a 10-2 spurt.
The Huskies (25 turnovers) were within five until Rod Brandenberg (19 points) made three three-pointers in less than three minutes and Treveon Graham (16) had 10 points as part of a 28-12 surge for a 64-43 lead.
The Rams were almost as accurate on three-pointers (9 of 20) as free throws (14 of 31).
●OLD DOMINION 88, DELAWARE 74: Kent Bazemore had 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists as the two-time defending champion Monarchs (20-12) had five players score in double figures to overwhelm the No. 5 Blue Hens (18-13).
Donte Hill added 15 points in ODU’s highest-scoring performance of the season. Devon Saddler scored 24 for Delaware, which had won nine in a row but labored to defeat one-win Towson in the first round.
At the end of the first half, the Monarchs went on an 8-2 run to claim a 47-42 advantage. Bazemore had a three-pointer and a three-point play in the last 80 seconds.
“I wanted to play faster than that,” ODU Coach Blaine Taylor said. “We were quite comfortable with the pace. There was never a point where I said, ‘Slow down.’ ”