January 9, 2023
How Drexel’s Keishana Washington found herself atop the NCAA in scoring
Canadian guard has made 30-point nights commonplace for the Dragons
She’s not a household name, but Keishana Washington is experiencing a season that ranks among the elite in college basketball. The fifth-year graduate student from Drexel University led Division I in scoring for three weeks in December; she is challenging Maddy Siegrist of cross-town rival Villanova for that superlative as the season progresses.
The 5’7 shooting guard is averaging 27.6 points and is pacing the Dragons to a 12-3 record through Sunday’s 81-64 win over Stony Brook. Drexel has now won seven consecutively and is undefeated atop the Colonial Athletic Association.
No win was bigger than its 86-82 OT thriller over Penn State on Dec. 18 at Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center. Washington scored 42 points on 13-of-21 shooting in 42 minutes. She established a career-high and set a program record for points in regulation. The NCAA named Washington the National Player of the Week after the performance.
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“Just to get a win over a Power Five school is a great feeling,” Washington said. “At the moment, we are more concerned about the win, but we were going crazy about that (her statistics and records) in the locker room.”
Washington opened the season with 34 points against Rider, scored 37 versus Maryland Eastern Shore and she went over 30 points four other times. She passed Michelle Maslowski for second place on the school’s all-time scoring list during the Stony Brook game on Sunday. Washington is now about 700 points behind Gabriela Marginean — the Romanian, who the Minnesota Lynx drafted in 2010 — for the Drexel record.
Throughout her five seasons at Drexel, Washington has seen her scoring numbers grow from 7.4 to 10 to 14.6 to 19.2 to her current 27.6. How has she steadily increased by about five points per game each season?
“That really started this offseason,” Washington said of her scoring, “putting in the extra effort. I’m just shooting from the correct areas, moving and making consistent shots, trying to do the smaller things, like watching film.”
The daughter of Guyanese immigrants, Washington is from Pickering, Ontario and she is the first Canadian woman to play for the Dragons. Denise Dillon, who currently coaches Siegrist at Villanova, was the Drexel coach when Washington arrived in Philadelphia. Washington said it was Stacey Weiss who recruited her to come to Drexel. Weiss, a former Drexel player, was on Dillon’s staff and continues to work as an assistant for current coach Amy Mallon, who is in her third season and was formerly the associate head coach under Dillon.
“There was a family atmosphere, a great coaching staff and it was close to home,” Washington said of Drexel. “I liked the culture. At least 20 schools recruited me, from high to mid-major programs.”
She also noted that her parents could drive to Drexel from suburban Toronto to watch her play and her teenage brother’s AAU games in New Jersey.
Washington suited up in the red and white of Team Canada at the 2018 Under-18 FIBA Americas Championship. She scored seven points per game in leading Canada to a silver medal, behind the champions from the U.S. Washington said Team Canada has contacted her about national team training camps since then (although not the Olympic or World Cup level). Still, she opted to focus on her college career. She noted she enjoys watching past teammates succeed for Team Canada, however. Washington also keeps an open mind in terms of a future professional career. Current WNBA Draft boards have her pegged as an early third-round pick. Away from the court, Washington is a psychology major and said she looks forward to doing the research aspect for a future career.
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“I’m just saying that right now, I’ll take whatever opportunities are awarded to me,” Washington said. “The next level is more physical than college, so I will need to hit the weight room and become stronger. I need to become more consistent at shooting threes.”
Before those opportunities come knocking, Washington is trying to return to the NCAA Tournament for the second time. She was the CAA Championship MVP as a junior in 2021, scoring an event record of 35 points. Her 14th-seeded Dragons would lose to Georgia in the first round. She said it would “mean everything” to her to play in the Tournament again in her final season.
In addition to Washington, freshman forward Kylie Lavelle is scoring 16.8 points per game for Drexel. The CAA named Lavelle the Freshman of the Week twice and she recorded 31 in a loss to LaSalle in her second game. She missed a month after a lower-body injury but returned to the lineup recently. Also, fifth-year point guard Maura Hendrixson dished 14 assists in a win over Towson that was the second-best in the nation this year behind Nika Mühl‘s 15 for UConn.
The comparison to Maddy Siegrist
When you see that Siegrist and Washington are the two leading scorers in the nation, it jumps off the page. They play in the same city and Dillon coached both. Since Drexel is not part of the traditional Big Five, the schools do not play each season. However, Siegrist and Washington did meet twice in their careers, with both games decided by a basket.
In December 2019, Drexel defeated Villanova 54-52 in OT, despite Siegrist outscoring Washington 24-9. A year later, in December 2020, Villanova grinded out a 48-46 victory, but Washington outscored Siegrist 16-11. Note that Siegrist is six inches taller than Washington and they do not match up at the same position.
“I think it was like any other competition,” Washington said of the meetings with Siegrist. “We tried to slow her down, but it was two great players going head to head.”
Siegrist scored 36 in a win over Butler on Sunday to secure her half a point lead over Washington. Caitlin Clark, Aneesah Morrow and Ta’Niya Latson are right on their heels at 27, 26 and 25 points per game for Iowa, DePaul and Florida State.