Drexel Falls to Temple at the Palestra

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Final Score: Temple 82, Drexel 64
Drexel Player of the Game: Troy Harper
Key to the Game: Protect the ball

Drexel opened the game strong, trading bucks with Temple and keeping it close.  As the half progressed though, the Dragons’ play diminished.  They seemed to find new life when Zach Spiker picked up a technical foul for punching the scoring table, but ball control became a problem, and as with the rest of the season, their defense degraded to suspect at best.

In the early goings, Temple seemed to be prone to turnovers, handing the Dragons a number of free chances that they just could not capitalize on.  In the second 10 minutes of the first half, things started to come unraveled.  The Dragons turned the ball over seven times with Temple capitalizing on a number of their free opportunities.  The Owls scored 13 points off of Drexel’s turnovers while the Dragons were able to score just 2 points off Temple’s 5 giveaways.

When taking all of that into account along with a scoring drought for the Dragons that lasted the last 2:56 of the half, and a buzzer beating long three-pointer from Temple’s Nate Pierre-Louis, the Dragons found themselves trailing 41-30 as they headed to the locker room.  The point guard position rested in the hands of the freshmen again in the first 20 minutes, however junior guard Kurk Lee was once again dressed and on the bench for Drexel.

The second half started much the same as the first with the two teams trading shots.  Drexel ran with Temple for the first ten minutes with the teams putting up a matching 19 points.  A flurry of Dragon scoring even closed the gap to 6 at one point.  Following a three pointer that once again made it a 9-point game, Fran Dumphey wisely called a time out.  When they returned to the court, Temple set off on an 11-4 run, growing their lead to 16 points.  That run all but sealed the game up for the Owls.  When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read 82-64 in favor of Temple.

Turnovers killed the Dragons tonight.  Drexel’s turnover percentage tonight was 22%.  Simply put: out of roughly every five possessions the Dragons had, they gave the ball up on one of them.  It is difficult to win a basketball game when that happens, especially against a team like the Owls.  Temple was incredibly efficient when Drexel gave the ball up.   Temple scored more than a point and a half off Drexel’s 17 turnovers.  Drexel, on the other hand, scored only a single basket off Temple’s eight team turnovers.

Drexel did, however, get a good game out of the team’s bigs.  James Butler and Tim Perry Jr. combined to shoot 6 for 9 totaling 14 points and 12 rebounds.  “We had one of the best shot blockers in the country last year and he played a boat load of minutes and when he got in foul trouble it was tough sometimes,” Spiker said, “The worry was how do you replace him?  The minutes and points and rebounds and the average of those two combined?  They’ve done a good job.”

Cam Wynter, on the other hand, had a tough night.  Offensively, he scored 12 points, a good performance.  From a ball control standpoint, however, Wynter finished the game with 7 turnovers.  Fans should not fret though.  Wynter and his freshman partner Matey Juric have been pushed into big minutes that neither of them likely expected to play this season, and they have done an excellent job with their shares of the workload.

“We are asking a lot of all of our freshmen,” Spiker said, “And Cam has answered that demand a lot of time and I think he did today as well however they were able to do some things that made us a little uncomfortable as a team and he might have taken a brunt of that.”  Wynter’s play in the early goings this season were not overlooked by his coach, despite his stat line on Saturday, “He’s had a terrific non-conference slate.  (Looking) at the numbers and (anticipating) what he’s going to do I’ll take it every time.”

The Drexel Player of the Game honor once again goes to senior Troy Harper.  “I think he’s been pretty consistent since the La Salle game when he had 25 points,” Spiker said, “he’s been a consistent player for us.”  Harper had 18 points and 6 rebounds and showed no residual effects from what appeared to be a right leg injury in the UCONN game on Tuesday.

A Special Signing

There was one other addition to the Drexel bench this week.  Ryan Berg, age 8, signed a letter of intent and became the newest Dragon.  Ryan was matched up with the Drexel Dragons through the Friends of Jacklyn Foundation.  He was diagnosed with leukemia nearly three years ago.  Ryan was on the sidelines for Drexel’s game against Temple on Saturday.  “We were able to get him a gold jersey for today,” said Spiker, who is a father himself.  “He’s a guy who is in a fight for his life.  We were able to give him something, and I think that’s huge.”

The Friends of Jacklyn’s mission is “to improve the quality of life for children battling pediatric brain tumors and other childhood cancers and to raise awareness through their Adopt-A-Child, Safe on the Sidelines and Guardian Angels program.”

Out of conference play has come to an end for the Dragons.  They go into league play with a record of 5-7 against Division 1 teams.  After a short Christmas break, they head to Boston to take on the Northeastern Huskies on Friday to open CAA play.

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