Drexel’s headed to NCAAs for the first time in 25 years

Drexel forward T.J. Bickerstaff (23) shoots over Elon forward Simon Wright (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game for the Colonial Athletic Association men's tournament championship in Harrisonburg, Va., Tuesday, March 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Daniel Lin)

Drexel forward T.J. Bickerstaff (23) shoots over Elon forward Simon Wright (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game for the Colonial Athletic Association men's tournament championship in Harrisonburg, Va., Tuesday, March 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Daniel Lin)

Mate Okros scored 14 points with four 3-pointers and sixth-seeded Drexel is headed to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years after defeating eighth-seeded Elon 63-56 in the championship game of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament on Tuesday night.

The Dragons, whose last NCAA appearance came in 1996 as a member of the America East Conference, were 10 of 17 from 3-point range and went 29 of 51 in their three wins.

Xavier Bell added 11 points, and was one of three players with two 3s for Drexel (12-7), which played four games at James Madison’s Atlantic Union Bank Center this season and only two at home due to COVID issues.

Hunter McIntosh scored 19 points for Elon (10-9), which had its seven-game winning streak end in a bid to be the first team to win four straight in the CAA tourney. Ikenna Ndugba added 16 points for the Phoenix, who have never been to the Division I Big Dance.

Elon beat top-seeded James Madison by one in the quarterfinals and defending champion Hofstra by 18 in the semifinals.

Elon was within 57-53 following a McIntosh 3 with 1:02 to play but the Dragons went 6 for 6 from the foul line, making them 16 for 16 in the final minute of its last two games.

Drexel is now 8-7 against Elon but they didn’t play this season because of COVID issues.

Drexel took a 32-27 halftime lead, making 6 of 11 from 3-point range to 1 of 8 for the Phoenix. Okros hit 3 of 4 from distance and Zach Walton hit one from the left corner in the closing seconds for the Dragons.

Neither team shot a free throw in the first half but Drexel was 11 of 14 in the second when Elon was 2 of 3.

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