The Dragons lost in frustrating fashion for the second straight game in Williamsburg on Thursday, by a final score of 75-69. Drexel led by eight at halftime, but a surge coming out of the half, benefited by six Drexel turnovers in the first ten minutes of the second half, led to a Tribe onslaught of 27 points in that quarter of the game, as the lead slipped away and eventually, William and Mary was able to lead by nine points.
“I thought our half-court defense was good” said Coach Spiker postgame. And he was largely correct. The oft criticized component of the Dragons game played well against a complex Tony Shaver led offense. William and Mary outscored the Dragons 28-4 in the paint in the second half, which was the story of the game. William and Mary is known as a three point shooting team, but when they can drive straight to the basket in transition, that’s what they will do and that’s what they did. It was Drexel turnovers, and bad shots that turn into quick runouts, that fueled the Tribe – a different type of success then they had at the DAC earlier in the year when they just ran over DU in the half-court offense.
The Dragons were led by Cam Wynter who “If that guy didn’t look like Rookie of the Year in the conference tonight, I don’t know who is. [He had] 17 points, 7 assists, 9 rebounds, so that’s the second game he’s almost had a triple double.” Said Coach Spiker. He had the opportunity for the assists too, but his teammates missed some bunnies and well, that is why assists are a hard stat to measure by at times. When, not if, Cam gets his first triple double, it will be the first for Drexel since Eric Schmieder did the deed early in Bruiser Flint’s tenure. Tonight, Cam was quite simply the best player on the floor for either team.
It’s almost strange writing a story of this team where offense is the issue. It’s run so well this year, and even last night was good for over a point per possession. But it was lethargic in the second half of this one, and a hungry Tribe team that had lost five in a row saw weakness and pounced. The momentum in the building visibly changed and it looked like it was going to be all downhill from there. The Dragons were able to answer the Tribe’s nine point lead and cut it back to one, and eventually re-take the lead, but Tony Shaver took a timeout with three minutes to go and his team down by one. The teams traded empty possessions, but then a Tribe bucket, stop and another bucket put the Dragons in the Danger Zone. Justin Pierce, who missed the first game against Drexel, then hit a dagger three with 36 seconds to play to all but end it.
The frustration from the Dragons was palpable. When asked postgame about the Dragons ball movement postgame and if he was happy about it, Coach Spiker said “No.” When asked if he wanted to expand, he said “No.” He did mention that at times they did have ball movement, had clean looks, and some of those looks didn’t even hit the rim. Troy Harper showed his frustration on the court during the game, but veteran CAA official Sean Hull walked the other way to defuse the situation. This is a team that just lost back to back heartbreakers, but has shown fight all season long. If there’s one thing a Dragon fan can look forward to, it’s that the defense has looked improved in recent games. And the offense is a known commodity, it will be better then it was tonight on most nights. Alihan Demir, Troy Harper, Trevor John combined for all of six points in the first half. John didn’t even have a shot. The team will be better than this most nights.
The next game for the squad is Saturday against Elon, who the Dragons suddenly find themselves tied with in the standings after Elon scored a late bucket to beat Delaware. It’s a big one, almost a must win if the Dragons want to avoid playing the Saturday game in Charleston.