Final Score: Drexel 72, Towson 66
Key to the Game: Composure
Drexel Player of the Game: Alihan Demir
Next Game: Saturday January 20th 2pm vs. JMU
The Towson Tigers have had their fair share of issues this season. From unexpected transfers to scoring on themselves by mistake, there has not been a lot that has gone right for the Tigers. They have, however, had a good deal of success against Drexel as of late, having won their last seven contests against the Dragons. Alihan Demir and the Drexel Dragons would have other plans though on Thursday night.
Drexel played a lot of 2-3 zone in the first half, conceding a number of perimeter shots to a Towson team that has not shot the ball well from behind the arc this year. The 31% three point shooting Tigers took advantage of the chances given to them as they sunk four of their ten attempts for the half. Backed by nine offensive rebounds and 13 points from their bench, Towson led for most of the half before the Dragons fought their way back into the game.
With Tim Perry Jr still sidelined with an undisclosed issue, Zach Spiker found himself once again having to improvise down low. Tadas Kararinas found himself subbed out with two fouls after just three minutes in relief of James Butler, who also found himself with a pair. Spiker went with starter Alihan Demir and the guy who normally backs him up: Jarvis Doles. The pair spent most of the last four minutes on the floor together with Doles’ three pointer putting the Dragons ahead 32-30 with 2:25 remaining in the half. After a questionable no-call on what has become Drexel’s signature final play: an ally-oop to Demir from Cam Wynter, Drexel went to the locker room with a 35-34 lead, led by Demir’s game high 11 points.
Towson wanted this game, and Drexel gave them their fair share of opportunities. With 16:42 remaining in the half, James Butler had already picked up his third foul of the game. Following an offensive foul call which gave him his fourth of the day, Butler spiked the ball in frustration. The referees saw fit at that point to serve up a technical, giving him his fifth of the game and sending him to the bench for the remainder of the evening. The turn of events seemed to light a fire under the trailing Tigers who responded with a 10-2 run following Butler’s departure.
With Towson’s hot shooting, Drexel found themselves trailing once again by double digits. On the back of some brilliant shooting and unexpected playing time from Jarvis Doles, the Dragons battled back to close the score to 57-55 at the under-8 timeout. Doles did, however, pick up a “taunting” technical after hanging on the rim on a follow up dunk. That put back capped thirteen consecutive points from the sophomore wing, marking his career high 16th point of the game. “When you’re playing really really hard with some passion, that will happen sometimes,” his coach said of his technical foul after the game.
Doles’ energy proved to be contagious, as the Dragons extended their lead to six. The red hot shooting by the Tigers finally cooled, and after the expected bevy of free bees to end the game, Drexel walked away victorious by a score of 72-66.
Coming into Thursday’s game, on paper one would think that Towson would out-rebound the Dragons, and the damage done by the Tigers would be on the interior as they were a poor perimeter shooting team. Both of these assumptions proved to be incorrect, but that’s the crazy world of college basketball. Drexel was able to out-board the Tigers 47-44 while the visiting team shot 38% from three in one of their bet perimeter performances of the season.
Jarvis Doles made the most of his unexpected minutes. He played half the game, and recoded 16 on 6 of 10 shooting, 4 of 7 from three. If not for the perormance of Alihan Demir, Doles would have walked away with the Player of the Game honors. Demir, however, recorded his fifth double-double of the season posting 22 points and a career high 16 rebounds. The junior was asked to pick up a lot of the interior work with Perry once again sidelined and Butler’s early ejection.
It should also be noted that Drexel’s 47 rebounds was the highest total recorded in the Zach Spiker era, and the most they’ve pulled down since they grabbed 50 in a 62-46 win on March 2nd, 2013.
The win improved Drexel’s CAA record to 3-4. When Drexel takes the court for their 2019 Homecoming game, they will have the opportunity to walk away with a .500 record in CAA, a feat that was last accomplished on February 28, 2015, some 1,421 days ago. There could not be a better reason to pack the DAC in hopes of sending the Dragons home with a win.