There are moments and then there are moments. There are games and then there are games. For the crowd of 1,116 Thursday night’s contest between rivals Drexel and Delaware will forever go down as a game.
“We try to get bricks, which is three straight stops” said Tramaine Isabell, postgame. They didn’t get many – maybe one if Coach Spiker is in a good mood (On the third trip UD got to the line but missed both free throws) – when the Dragons gave up 56 points in the games first half. That was Drexel’s second consecutive half allowing 56 points, leading one to believe that the teams defensive effort and intensity had gone out to the same pasture that the barren and unenthusiastic DAC crowd had gone to. It was an incredibly bleak and uninspired start for what was a critical home game against the teams arch rival.
And then the second half happened. And for those thinking that Tramaine Isabell and Coach Spiker speak in metaphors, they do not:
The team earned four of those bricks in the second half, including one brick that was earned by forcing three straight turnovers, which may lead Coach Spiker to considering a different type of brick for those occasions (may we suggest a gold one?) Those three straight turnovers were part of a 10-0 Drexel run that cut the lead from 14 to 4 in just three minutes and six seconds. Not a timeout was taken by Drexel as the players were given a mission in the halftime locker room and no reminders were needed. Defense created offense, and the team came alive to the tune of shooting 53% from deep in the second half, but the comeback was somehow bigger than that.
This comeback was about the experience, an experience shared by the Drexel faithful in attendance, players and fans seemingly in it together. Just like a crowd watching a horror movie and knowing that the character should not walk alone through that doorway, the DAC crowd seemed to see this scene unfolding well before it was in front of them. And they weren’t the only ones. “After the first media in the second half, I knew we had it. You could tell… I was looking them in the eyes and they were cutting their eyes like they didn’t want to look up… and I knew we had em” said Troy Harper postgame. The score at that media timeout: Delaware 62 – Drexel 41. The team was down 21, at home, with 14 minutes to play and the man “knew we had em.” And while the crowd wasn’t the largest, they started getting loud for the first time all night when the team was still down more than twenty points too. Like the fans somehow knew this game was far from over. Say it was in the air, say it was momentum or say the same popular Philadelphia phrase that Troy Harper wrote on the locker room wall pregame “hungry dogs run faster”, on this night, in this building it was all true.
So when Sammy Mojica threw his body into traffic and turned a missed Tramaine Isabell three pointer into an offensive rebound, sending the ball right back to Isabell and turning it into a four point play, it just seemed right. When the oft injured Miles Overton, who has been fighting for minutes this season, came out and knocked down two triples – it was anticipated. And when one of the most bananas plays anyone will ever see involved Sammy Mojica bulldozing through Drexel fan favorite referee Nathan Farrell to save the ball, followed by Troy Harper saving the ball and then – by his own admission – overthrowing it, that ball was somehow destined to land in the hands of the Dragon’s best offensive player who stepped up and, with Alihan Demir calling Isabell to his pick, Tramaine stepped around Demir and knocked down the triple. On no other nights would that make sense. On this night it did. Somehow.
The scramble. The three. The fist pump. 4-point game pic.twitter.com/XZ0oXNn9AQ
— Drexel Men's Basketball (@DrexelMBB) February 23, 2018
On ESPN’s Sportscenter Thursday night, where this game was featured on the A-Block of the show. Scott Van Pelt said “look at that court, there’s a fire breathing Dragon on that thing!” With apologies to Mr. Van Pelt, he’s wrong. On this night, there was a whole team of them. And another four bricks in their wall.