Final Score: Bowling Green 81, Drexel 71
Drexel Player of the Game: James Butler
Key to the Game: Shot selection and composure
Sunday’s game would be the second meeting between these two teams with the Falcons besting the Dragons last season by a score of 78-69. Without Kurk Lee at their disposal, Drexel once again turned to freshman Cam Wynter to run the point. Wynter continued to play well, putting up 8 points in the first half. Troy Harper led the way with 12, despite having three turnovers for the first frame.
Drexel was the better shooting team, and worse defensive team in the first half. Their efforts were good enough to send them to the locker room with a 45-43 lead at the break while shooting 56.7% from the field. Led by redshirt sophomore Justin Turner’s 19 points, Bowling Green was able to keep themselves in the game. Coming out of halftime Bowling Green went to work turning things around.
The Falcons opened the second half shooting white hot from just about everywhere on the floor. They opened with a 9-0 run in the first four minutes, forcing Zach Spiker to burn one of his coveted second half timeouts. It took Drexel a bit longer out of the timeout to get their feet under them too. Bowling Green would carry their run to 12-0. The Dragons did not score their first point until the 14:46 mark, when Alihan Demir drained a 3 pointer. A foul away from the ball gave Drexel the ball back allowing Trevor John to drain a three of his own making it a 4-point game. They ultimately responded with a 10-1 run of their own.
When it came down to it though, Bowling Green’s second half effort was too much for the Dragons. The Falcons put up 38 points in the second frame, outscoring Drexel by 12. Drexel had four players in double figures, led by Harper’s 20, but Turner’s 29 points and Demajeo Wiggins’ 16 were too much for Drexel in the long run. Bowling Green’s defense was key in the second half, as they held Drexel to 9 of 41 shooting in the second frame. That did not seem to have much to do with a cold streak or failing to capitalize on opportunities given to them by the Falcons. It was more due to the desperation of the late game situation and poor shot selection.
Some things went well for the Dragons on Sunday. Troy Harper had the refs on his side allowing him to play his game and get to the line. eight of his points were freebees for the senior. James Butler had arguably his best showing of the year, grabbing 12 boards, and making his presence felt on the offensive glass where he grabbed nine of them despite finding himself in foul trouble. Cam Wynter once again showed his basketball IQ at the point. Even with a couple of freshman lapses and an ultimately cold second half, his game overall was a strong one.
And then there were the negatives. This Drexel team has struggled defensively. They’ve shown that they need to be on from the field if they want to outscore their opponents because they have been completely unable to lock down their opponents. They don’t have that shot blocker patrolling the paint that they had last year. They had a good rebounding showing on Sunday against a Bowling Green team that is very good in the paint, but they also allowed them to shoot 50% from the field in the first half. When your team shoots 56.7% from the field like Drexel did, there is no way that you should find yourself in a two-point game at the break.
If Drexel had pulled off the win, it would have matched their longest win streak in the Spiker era, but it was not in the cards. What we did see today was progress. There are a lot of questions about this Drexel team. How are they going to defend the post? Can they keep up with opponents when they go through those inevitable cold streaks from the field? What, exactly, will the starting five look like when we get to conference play? Drexel certainly has some weapons, but how will Spiker use them?
Lucky for the Dragons, they play their next four games at home starting with a Wednesday night matchup with NJIT. The long homestand will give them a chance to grow together as a team, and hopefully focus on their defensive efficiency. They could certainly use the work.