Final Score: Drexel 95, Loyola (MD) 86
Drexel Player of the Game: Alihan Demir
Key to the Game: Make quality shots
The Loyola Greyhounds were yet another team that got the best of the Drexel Dragons last season. When the Dragons went to Baltimore last December, they made the bus ride home 66-62 losers to a then 2-8 Loyola team. Revenge was without a doubt on the minds of the Drexel players as they took to Sam Cozen Court on Wednesday evening.
The first half was an atypical one for the Dragons. Drexel has played a fast, aggressive offensive game as of late, recording an average of 69.6 offensive possessions over their last three contests. The first half of Wednesday’s game saw the Dragons possess the ball just 29 times with a number of those possessions coming down to the last few seconds of the shot clock. Although Zach Spiker downplayed any inference that this was part of his team’s game plan, the optics suggested otherwise.
Instead of trying to overwhelm the Greyhounds with the number of shots they put up, the Spiker’s Dragons instead went for quality, and they succeeded. Drexel shot 57.69% from the field in the first half, averaging nearly 1.5 points per possession, a massive number. The problem though was that The Greyhounds were able to shoot at a torrid pace of their own averaging 1.66 points per possession. At the break, Drexel trailed by a score of 48-43.
Whatever message that Coach Spiker conveyed to his players in the locker room worked. Drexel opened the second frame with a 14-5 run backed by a pair of threes from grad student Trevor John. John would finish the game with 21 points, a performance that did not seem to surprise his coach. “He’s a very good catch and shoot guy and he works at it,” Spiker said of John. Like the rest of his teammates, John became quiet on the offensive end of the court during the final 10 minutes of the game. Loyola was able to make a contest out of it, but in the end, Drexel came out on top by a score of 95-86, improving their record at home to 4-1 and their overall record to 5-4.
Cam Wynter had another impressive game at the point. The freshman recorded his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 assists in 38 minutes on the floor. With Kurk Lee still sidelined, this has been an impressive audition for the 6’2 guard from Hempstead, NY. “Cam’s been great,” Trevor John said, “he’s played with great poise, and he’s played with great energy.” James Butler recorded a double as well with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The number 5 position occupied by Butler and Tim Perry Jr once again had a strong showing combining for 12 points and 15 rebounds.
Trevor John has been asked by this team to play a much bigger role than he did in his three seasons with Cal Poly, but he feels good about his position with this Drexel team, “I’ve always felt like I was comfortable being able to play a role like this and help lead a team on and off the floor, I’m just trying to stay true to that and make an impact past my time here.” To date, John ranks in the top 100 in the nation in offensive rating, effective field goal percentage and true shooting percentage.
While Trevor John’s game high seven three pointers were a sight to behold, tonight’s player of the game honors go to Alihan Demir. Loyola did not have an answer for Drexel’s 6’9 junior. For just the second time in his college career, Demir did not attempt a three-point shot. While his versatility is an important part of his game, “I didn’t think they had an answer for me inside,” Demir said, “they doubled me in the first half and I just kicked it out and we got so many open threes that they had to stop and I just (went) to work.” Demir finished the night with a career high 24 points on 9 of 14 shooting.
Zach Spiker did not just want the impact of his players in Wednesday’s game to be highlighted. Loyola’s free throw shooting dipped from 60% in the first half to just 41.6% in the second. “I’ve got two words for it,” Spiker said, “DAC Pack. That place was going nuts over there.” And he was right. The student section was alive and kicking in a mid-week game, with finals quickly approaching. The students are buzzing about this team, and it seems like basketball just might be catching on again on the Drexel campus, but still something was missing.
While much of the noise surrounding Sam Cozen Court rightfully came from the student section, the sidelines remained barren. What started as a small grassroots effort of handing out tickets to students and having a strong presence on social media is finally paying dividends, it is now time for the alumni and fans to fill up the rest of the seats. This is a fun team to watch. If nothing else, the product that coach Spiker has put on the floor this season is the best that Drexel has seen in quite a few years.
Drexel returns to the court to take on UMBC on Saturday. The Retrievers are best known for beating the #1 ranked Virginia in the first round of the NCAA tournament last season. Tip off is at 2pm. Come out and cheer the Dragons on!