Final Score: Drexel 79, William & Mary 61
Drexel Player of the Game: Austin Williams
Key to the Game: Keep your foot on the gas pedal!
Next Game: Saturday February 11th 4pm vs. Towson
The stretch as of late has been a tough one for the Dragons. Crammed with four games in seven days, Drexel most recently lost a double overtime heartbreaker on a missed layup at the buzzer, and blew a ten point lead to Hofstra in the closing moments of the game. Prior to those two heartbreakers, the Dragons were victims of a 108-85 shellacking at the hands of William and Mary.
Thursday’s rematch hosted by Drexel on the familiar hardwood of Sam Cozen Court saw the Dragons taking on a Tribe team that found itself suffering with both injury and illness. It was reported earlier in the week that there was a flu running through the William & Mary locker room that effected some of their best players, namely leading scorer Daniel Dixon and big man Jack Whitman who would start the night from the Tribe bench. The team’s second leading scorer Omar Prewitt missed their last game, a loss to Towson, with an injury. While all three players were in the lineup tonight they did not look themselves, often seeming to find themselves a step or two behind Drexel.
The Dragons hit the floor ready to play with the team who had run them into the ground in their last meeting. A steal by Kari Jonsson and two quick baskets by the Dragons forced a Tribe timeout less than two minutes into the game. The extra time on the sidelines did not help the Tribe solve their early woes. By the under-12 timeout, Drexel led 24-6 as Jonsson poured in 13 of his game high 23 points. In just 12 minutes, the Tribe committed 5 turnovers to just 1 from Drexel. William and Mary did not help their cause either. As a team that ranked first in the conference in three point shooting, the Tribe shot just 4 for 20 as a team from behind the arc. Although he was hindered by his injured ankle, Prewitt contributed 17 in the losing effort while Dixon scored just 10 points.
By the time the game was over, Drexel scored 23 points from William & Mary’s 13 turnovers. The Dragons committed just 7 turnovers themselves for the game with 4 in the first half and 3 in the second. Drexel came out ready to play. They dominated for most of the game, and led wire-to-wire. Late in the game though, the Drexel head coach showed his team that he expects them to play hard from wire to wire, despite the score.
With just under four minutes to go, Jack Whitman tucked home a layup to cut the Drexel lead to 22 points. Off of the inbound, Oliver Tot made what was far too easy of a steal to turn the possession in the other direction. The ball found its way out of bounds and into the hands of the visiting team. With the media timeout taken, Spiker furiously advanced to center court to meet his team. He pulled them into the huddle and helped his team regroup. As the horn sounded to call the players back to the court, Spiker had one simple mission for his Dragons: “Get a kill! Get a kill right now!”
Drexel headed back to the floor and Sammy Mojica forced a quick Tribe turnover. It was fitting that Mojica, a guy who has struggled defensively often this season, added this tally to his stat line. Mojica was called upon by his coach to cover Daniel Dixon, one of the best scorers in the CAA and he did an excellent job, contributing a block on Dixon and two steals of his own on the defensive end. While his 2 of 10 shooting from behind the arc left something to be desired, he contributed in other ways. Mojica, who entered the night leading the CAA in Assist to Turnover Ratio during conference play, finished the night with 6 helpers and turned the ball over just twice.
Austin Williams earned the player of the game award for the night. While Kari Jonsson’s offensive effort with 23 points and shot 6 of 12 from behind the arc cannot be ignored, Austin continued to show his growth as a player on both ends of the court. He shot a perfect 5 of 5 on the offensive end, contributing 10 points to the Drexel victory. On the defensive end of the court, the younger Williams (no relation) tied career highs with 4 blocks and 2 steals. After fouling out of 8 games this season, Austin committed only 3 fouls Thursday night and played a solid, well rounded game. Undoubtedly his most notable play came close to the 13 minute mark. Connor Burchfield appeared to have a wide open layup, but Williams hustled back into position and made a key block on the smaller Tribe player, generating a rebound for Major Canady and a fast break layup by Kurk Lee at the other end.
Last night’s performance by the Drexel Dragons was one of the most complete performances that they have put on display this season. While Kari Jonsson’s offense stood out in the first half, and the defensive efforts of Austin Williams and Sammy Mojica were superb, there was nobody who under-performed. Other than a few momentary lapses that were dealt with effectively by the Drexel coaching staff, the team played an excellent game against a William & Mary team that defeated a presumably unbeatable UNC Wilmington team just a few weeks prior.
Defensively Drexel held The Tribe to their sixth lowest effective field goal percentage and their second worst three point shooting performance of the season. The 61 points surrendered by the Dragons was their second lowest against a Division 1 team this season. Despite all of this, Spiker demanded more from his team in the press conference following Thursday’s victory implying that defensively, his team could perform better. Despite being on the losing end of a few recent contests, based on the analysis posted here earlier in the week, I believe him.
Elsewhere in the CAA, UNCW once again pulled clear of Charleston thanks to a Seahawk win at home against James Madison and a Charleston loss at home to Northeastern. A little south down 95, Delaware stayed even with Drexel at the bottom of the CAA with a 76-74 win over Elon, and Towson beat Hofstra to help tighten the race for seeding on Pillow Fight Friday in early March.
Drexel returns to the court for a rematch with Towson on Saturday at 4pm.