Final Score: Hofstra 80, Drexel 77
Key to the Game: “Sometimes you, sometimes me, always us”
Drexel Player of the Game: Cam Wynter
Next Game: Saturday 4pm at home vs. Northeastern
Hofstra’s Justin Wright-Foreman had an audience to play for Thursday night, as press row was occupied by a variety of NBA scouts in town to take a look at the senior averaging 26.6 points per game. The conference’s leading scorer started slow, missing his first five attempts from the field. Matey Juric and Coletrane Washington both had effective segments for the Dragons, the crescendo of which was a block on a Wright-Foreman driving layup by Washington.
Hofstra seemed to get their feet back under them after trailing for most of the first four minutes of the game. When half time arrived, Drexel found themselves trailing just 39-33, a far better showing than the 47-27 half-time score in Hempstead, NY in the conference opener for both teams. Most remarkably though, Drexel was able to keep the game that close while shooting just 41% from the field, and 20% from three. Hofstra spent the entire first half in a 2-3 zone, albeit an aggressive one. Drexel’s ball movement against the zone was crisp and aggressive, and it paid off, which allowed Drexel to stay in the game.
Trevor John, who entered the game searching for his school record 93rd three point make of the season did not accomplish the feat until the last two minutes of the half. It was not for a lack of trying. John recorded four misses in the half, but they were all good looks and clean shots. The DAC Pack let John, a grad transfer from Cal Poly, know that they appreciated his efforts this year as they displayed a banner that read “23 made 93 congrats Trevor.”
Hofstra gave Drexel some different defensive looks to open the second half, and Alihan Demir made them pay. The junior forward scored Drexel’s first eight points of the half before Trevor John finally heated up and added a couple of threes of his own. Just about everything a shorthanded Drexel team did in the second half was not only an improvement on the first 20 minutes, but it was better than Hofstra. On the surface, the Dragons outscored their opponent 44-41, but when you look under the hood, what you see is a truly complete performance. The team turned the ball over just twice, both by Matey Juric. Trevor John got hot and scored 17 of his 20 points shooting 5 for 8 from three. Cam Wynter dished out six assists. Drexel got close, but their effort just was not quite enough.
Trailing by four, Wynter received the ball in the corner and put up a three that came up just short. He hit the floor, the whistle blew. Wynter would be going to the line to shoot three. The player who fouled him was none other than Justin Wright-Foreman. It was his fifth, and with 2 seconds remaining, he would head to the bench. He had, however, already left his mark on the game.
Wright-Foreman scored 32 points for Hofstra on 12 of 23 shooting. He went 8 for 10 in the second half and nearly single handedly beat the Dragons. But that is what the defacto choice for CAA Player of the Year should do. Only one other Hofstra player scored more than a single field goal in the second half, and that was Desure Buie. With two.
Wynter made his first free throw and missed his second. Spiker burned his final time out to put together a plan for his team, most likely a missed third free throw attempt with the team now trailing by three. And miss Wynter did. The ball careened off the iron and went off of a Hofstra player with 1.2 seconds remaining in the game. Drexel had the ball under the Hofstra bucket, and they trailed by three. My mind kept repeating: “Trevor John in traffic” while visions of playing bonus basketball with Wright-Foreman sitting on the sidelines danced through my head but that is not how the final possession would play out.
After a series of picks, most likely designed to free John up, Alihan Demir found himself at the top of the key. A picture-perfect inbound pass gave the 6’7 power forward with an outside touch a free and clear look at the basket. He put up his attempt, but it fell just short of its target. The buzzer sounded, and Drexel found themselves on the losing end of the game by a score of 80-77.
After the game and before the press conference, Zach Spiker took a seat off to the side before he took to the podium for nearly ten minutes. His body language said what everyone in the room was probably thinking: “Almost, coach. You almost had them.”
Despite the loss, it needs to be stressed that this was an excellent team game for the Dragons. Drexel has three guys sidelined who were expected to be starters this season: Zach Walton, Kurk Lee and most recently, Troy Harper. They had to rely on a freshman trio of Cam Wynter, Matey Juric, and Coletrane Washington to deal with the best player in the Colonial Athletic Conference. Trevor John, who hadn’t played more than 18 minutes in a college basketball game in his career prior to joining Drexel this year played more than 30 minutes for the 23rd time out of his 30 games as a Dragon. The chemistry that has developed between these guys who were not even with the program last year has been remarkable.
With great efforts put in by Demir and John, the Player of the Game honor for Thursday night goes to Cam Wynter. Fans have gotten to watch the freshman grow from week to week. They’ve watched him flirt with a triple-double more than a couple of times, and Thursday was another addition to that list. Wynter played a full 40 minutes, and his intensity never dropped. Wynter finished the game with 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists. He also did not commit a single turnover in the second half.
Elsewhere in the CAA, everything worked out for Drexel. Northeastern beat Delaware, William & Mary beat Towson, and Elon put a hurting on JMU. The Dragons find themselves now in sixth place with a conference record of 7-10. They finish their season Saturday against the Northeastern Huskies.
Saturday is also senior day. Three players will be honored: Grad transfer Trevor John, the injured Troy Harper, and walk-on Kevin Doi. Come out and let these guys know how much their Drexel careers have been appreciated. If Drexel can put together a performance like they did Thursday night, they might be able to take control of their own destiny and not have to worry about what happens elsewhere in the CAA.
As always, thanks for reading, and we’ll see you at the DAC!