John Gordon scored 17 second-half points to lead top-seeded Delaware over Drexel 86-67 Saturday for its second consecutive America East championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Gordon, who was 5-for-7 on 3-pointers, had only five points at halftime but hit a shot from behind the arc just 14 seconds into the second half that gave Delaware a 40-32 lead and sent the Blue Hens well on their way to their 13th consecutive victory and the title.
Gordon was presented with the Reggie Lewis Award as the tournament's most outstanding player.
Delaware will be making its fourth trip to the NCAA Tournament. The previous three times, the Blue Hens have been placed in the Midwest region. Delaware was routed 95-56 by Purdue in the first round of last year's tournament.
Conference player of the year Mike Pegues added 18 points for Delaware, while Tyrone Perry had 17. Drexel was led by conference first-team player Joe Linderman, who had 19 points, and Bryant Coursey, who had 13.
With Delaware ahead 63-53 and 8:22 remaining, Kestutis Marciulionis' driving basket started a 12-3 run from which Drexel could not recover. Gordon scored five points during the stretch.
Marciulionis, who finished with 16 points, has averaged more than 17 points in his last four contests against Drexel, including a career-high 33 in January.
Delaware, which lost only one home game this season, has defeated Drexel all three times the teams have met in the conference championship game. Delaware beat Boston University in the tournament final last season.
The top seed has won 18 consecutive games and is 39-4 overall in the America East Tournament.
Both teams finished 15-3 in conference play, but Delaware earned the right to play the final at the Bob Carpenter Center by beating Drexel in both regular-season meetings.
In th opening half, Mike Kouser scored seven consecutive points during a 9-0 Drexel run as the Dragons grabbed a 17-16 lead with 12:42 left. Drexel extended the lead to 26-19 before Delaware responded with an 18-6 spurt -- including an 11-0 run -- to go ahead 37-32 at the half.
Drexel, which has advanced to the title game in seven of the last eight years, only allowed 37 points in its semifinal victory over Hofstra last Sunday.
Kouser and Linderman accounted for 24 of Drexel's 32 first-half points.
Gordon, Pegues, Coursey, Linderman and Perry were picked for the all-tournament team.
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