Many thanks to Mark Walush for taking the reins for the NIagara post game!
Final Score Drexel 74 , Niagara 93
Drexel Player of the Game: Austin Williams
Key to the Game: Put lids on Niagara’s baskets
Next Game Sunday November 27th vs LaSalle
The First Half
Niagara came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, with Kahlil Dukes his first five shots, and Niagara shooting a blistering 62.5% over the first 10 minutes of the game. The Dragons countered NU’s hot start with an ice cold effort out of the gate, shooting 33.3% over the first 10 minutes of the game, behind Miles Overton trying to shoot his way out of his funk, connecting on only 1 of his first 4 shots. Austin Williams had a strong start for the Dragons, continuing his torrid shooting streak, starting 2-2 with 2 rebounds in the early going.
Even with Niagara’s hot shooting continuing throughout the first half, the Dragons never let the game get out of reach, and even threatened to take the lead multiple times, eventually going into the half down 1, shooting a respectable 41%, compared to Niagara’s 59.3%, including going 5-6 from deep. The story of the first half was that there were only 3 FTs taken, something rarely seen from today’s whistle happy officiating crews.
The Second Half
While Drexel came out ice cold after the half, the Purple Eagles continued their hot streak, starting the half on a 6-0 run. The early run energized Niagara through the first part of the second half, helping the Eagles extend their lead to as much as 17. With Rodney Williams on the bench with 4 fouls, Drexel’s offense struggled to put up points as Niagara seemingly couldn’t miss.
Any time Drexel attempted to make a run back into the game, Niagara was right there to build their lead again. You have to give Drexel credit, when it would have been easy to give up when your opponent is shooting lights out, they continued to fight and try to get back in the game.
Something rarely seen from the Dragons teams of old, where Bruiser never strayed from its normal 6-7 man rotation, this Dragons team runs 10 deep, with 9 of the 10 scoring tonight. This depth will make Drexel much more prepared during the final stretch of the season and should make this Dragons team much more formidable in the CAA tournament than in recent years.
Another positive byproduct of the deep rotation is that it has allowed Miles Overton time to try and shoot his way out of his opening funk to start off the season. Like Nelson Agholor, Overton was in desperate need of a confidence boosting game. Unfortunately, this was not his night. Overton finished 3-17 including 1-8 on 3s. Hopefully the Thanksgiving break does him some good and we will eventually see his potential shine through.
I’m sure this will be mentioned many times this year, but the improvement shown from Austin has been phenomenal, and will be much needed during conference play. Austin went 7-8 from the floor while grabbing 7 rebounds. Contributions like the one that Austin made on Wednesday night are the kind that ease the workload on his partner on the blocks. He did it all against NIagara: he shot well, he rebounded well, he was willing to draw charges, and he blocked a shot. He has developed into a very capable second in command to Rodney in the front court. His continued improvement should be quite a fun ride this season.
Summing it Up
Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to a great offensive performance, and that is what we saw at Niagara tonight. Niagara finished the game shooting 56.1% on 2s, 83.3% on 3s, and 81% on FTs. Any team is going to be hard to beat shooting like that. When your team takes 27 more shots, wins the turnover battle 12-5, and wins the offensive glass battle 24-8, you expect to win the game, or at least some fluke close loss. You don’t expect to get blown out by 19 with stats like that. Sometimes basketball is a weird sport, this was one of those nights.
I’m sure Spiker will have a field day with the film on this. But for now, they must simply shrug this one off, and get back to work after a well deserved rest for Thanksgiving. Next game up is against “City 6” rival La Salle. The Dragons should go into that matchup hungry to prove that this game was just an outlier and to gain those oh so sweet bragging rights.
After a short break to enjoy their turkey and a little early Christmas shopping, the Dragons return to the DAC on Sunday to take on Big 5 (or City 6) rival La Salle.