Final Score: Drexel 67, Elon 63
Player of the Game: Cam Wynter
Key to the Game: Scouting and Execution
Coming into Saturday’s game, Drexel had not won an away game at Elon since February of 2015 which was also Elon’s first season in the CAA. Alumni Gym proved to be a tough place for the Dragons to play, but that would not be a problem anymore. With the opening of the 5,000 seat Schar Center, the Phoenix would now be playing in one of the most modern facilities in the CAA. The new venue proved to be a welcomed change for Zach Spiker and his Dragons.
After having slow start after slow start, Drexel looked like they had their act together right from the opening tip. Some of the team’s success in the early goings was helped along by Elon and their inability to put together a successful run. Elon made just three of their first 15 shots in the first half. Drexel’s well-balanced attack that featured eight points by Cam Wynter, seven from Troy Harper, six from Jarvis Doles and four from Tim Perry Jr was enough for the Dragons to head to the locker room with a 31-27 lead.
In the second half, Drexel looked like they were going to pull away and put the Phoenix to bed early, but that was not to be. Drexel shot well enough, 51.9% from the floor to be exact, but they were not without their scoring droughts, the crescendo of which was marked by their inability to score a field goal in the last 2:23 of the game. They just could not make this an easy win despite building a double-digit lead in the middle part of the second half. A few missteps were enough to give Elon some life, which included, ugly turnover by Alihan Demir on an inbound play in the final minute of the game. Eventually, Drexel did what they should do every time an opponent starts fouling them: they got the ball in Trevor John’s hands. The guard drained his only two attempts from the line on the night to seal the 67-63 victory for the Dragons.
The Dragons’ head coach had an optimistic look about Saturday’s nail biter. “There were a couple of points where I think we could break their back. . . and we didn’t,” Spiker said, “in hind sight, I’m glad we didn’t, because we found a way to win a close one.” More importantly, Drexel found a way to win a close game in the CAA on the road, a feat that has regularly eluded the Dragons in recent seasons.
As one of the best at drawing fouls in the nation, Troy Harper frequently finds himself at the free throw line. Saturday though, the referees refused to cooperate with Harper’s usual aggressive play. The senior, who finished the game with nine points, did not make it to the free throw line for a single attempt. While under other circumstances, Harper would continue to drive and continue to needle the refs until they gave him his calls, in the second half against Elon he found other ways to impact the game. Three of his four assists resulted in three pointers with two of them being drive and dishes to Trevor John, who was left wide open by the Phoenix; a mistake that nobody who does any sort of scouting should make against Drexel.
Speaking of scouting, it was evident that Spiker and his Dragons did their homework. Elon would call a play, and that play call would be echoed by the Dragons who knew exactly what they would be looking at. On inbound plays, the Drexel coaching staff could be heard calling out coverage instructions to their players.
Cam Wynter continues to capitalize on the minutes made available to him by the absence of Kurk Lee, who still appears to be feelings the nagging effects of an injured right shoulder. The game against Elon was Wynter’s 22nd consecutive start at the point for Drexel. With each passing game he continues to show his value to this Dragons team.
College athletes are frequently challenged both on and off the court. Today Wynter found himself up against the clock as game time approached. After returning home for personal reasons following Thursday’s loss to William and Mary Wynter arrived at the Schar Center at 4pm, just a couple of hours before tipoff. If there was any rust from his long travel day, you would not know it. Right out of the box Wynter opened the night with four rebounds. He added four assists and recorded just two turnovers, both in the first half. His 12 points, which included a trio of three pointers, were enough to win him the Player of the Game honors from Always a Dragon.
Wynter’s performance was just enough to edge out another freshman: Tim Perry Jr. Perry scored 6 points in his 14 minutes on the court, but his performance was a dominating one and he left some points on the table when he failed to convert some shots in close. The most remarkable note in his stat line though were his ten rebounds. It was a perfect match up for Perry whose size could not be countered by the Phoenix. Perry owned the paint when he was on the floor.
The Elon game was an important one, and a big win for Drexel. Now they turn their sights towards the Seahawks of UNCW who head to Philadelphia Thursday for Dragon slayer Devonte Cacok’s last trip to the DAC. Cacok put up 24 points and 12 boards against Drexel a few weeks ago at the Trask, but he did so against a Drexel team that was lacking Tim Perry Jr whose size was missed that afternoon. This time though, Perry is healthy, and the Dragons will once again need a win in the topsy turvy world of this season’s conference play.
Thanks for reading, and we will see you Thursday at the DAC!