PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Malaya Johnson scored 14 points to lead third-seed Elon to a 57-45 win over top-seeded Drexel on Saturday in the Colonial Athletic Association title game.
It's the second straight year that the Phoenix (25-7) won the CAA Tournament and marked only the second time in conference history that the 1 or 2 seed didn't win.
Elon has won 13 consecutive games and will now try and win the school's first NCAA Tournament game. The Phoenix lost by 13 points to West Virginia in its first NCAA appearance last year.
The Phoenix got off to a hot start, hitting their first six shots. They led 12-6 and extended that advantage to as many as 11 as the Dragons went cold from the field. Drexel missed 15 of its next 16 shots before Aubree Brown banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key that got the Dragons within eight. The Phoenix led 27-17 at the half.
The Dragons (26-7), who made shot just 7-for-33 in the first half from the field, didn't hit their first basket of the third quarter until 5:26 remained. The 3-pointer by Hannah Nihill got them within 36-22.
Elon's lead ballooned to 49-31 to start the fourth quarter before the Dragons attempted a furious rally, scoring 14 of the first 16 points in the period to get within 51-45 with 2:15 left. They had a few chances to cut the deficit to one possession but couldn't hit a few open looks from the 3-point line.
Meme Gardner hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:18 left and threw her arms up to the Phoenix faithful, who made the trip from North Carolina. That shot ended the Dragons comeback bid and started the Phoenix's celebration.
Nihill scored 14 points to lead Drexel.
This was the first loss at home for Drexel all season. The Dragons had won their first 15 games on campus and were trying to win their first conference title since 2009 - the only other time they were the one seed.
Drexel was missing senior captain Sara Woods, who injured her knee in the semifinal win over Delaware. She was sporting a big knee brace on her right knee and walking with a limp.
The CAA decided to move to campus sites for its tournament last year with James Madison hosting. Next year Delaware will be the host school.
Elon: Awaits NCAA Tournament seeding.
Drexel: Awaits WNIT bid for the fourth straight year. The Dragons were champions of the WNIT in 2013.