Final Score: Drexel 72, Quinnipiac 71
Drexel Player of the Game: Alihan Demir
Key to the Game: Crashing the boards
Next Game: Thursday Dec 21st @ Loyola (MD)
On Monday night, in front of thousands of empty seats at the capacity 2,532 Daskalakis Athletic Center, the Drexel Dragons played a game worthy of their crowd. The victory was as dramatic as it was underwhelming. But at the end of the day it was a win, another cog in the building process in year two of the Spiker project. If this game was in conference game, every Dragon man, woman and child would take that outcome in a heartbeat. In out of conference play, games like these will continue to highlight areas of potential improvement.
Getting to the end first, the Dragons won the tightly contested game with a Kurk Lee three pointer with 2.4 seconds on the clock. The play ran exactly as designed, with a cutting Lee hitting Alihan Demir in the corner and then bouncing out behind the arc. When a shot fake by Demir got his man off his feet, he drove, causing Lee’s man to sag off and help defend Demir. Just as the coaches call it, Demir made his one assist of the evening a perfect one, hitting a wide open Lee who set his feet and hit his 4th three pointer of the night. It’s rare that the X’s and O’s play out in motion almost exactly as drawn up, and fans of the game everywhere should appreciate that play, as they should Baker Dunleavy’s response for Quinnipiac.
With 2.4 on the clock, the Bobcats screened Tyshawn Myles from guarding the inbounder, then threw the ball the length of the court and bounced it outside to a wide open Rick Kelly whose three with no time left on the clock came up just short. Both plays were wonderful examples of young coaches who had their teams prepared and “get it” when it comes to X’s and O’s.
Now, as to why a game between a 300+ ranked team on the road and the home Dragons was close, it’s as simple as the game inside the arc. The Dragons controlled the boards all night. They snared 43% of their missed shots to 15% for the Bobcats. Without Chaise Daniels playing for the Bobcats, Austin Williams and Tyshawn Myles had significant size on their opponents and showed it when they had the opportunity, They didn’t have many opportunities. Austin Williams had only one shot in 19 minutes of action, and it was on a possession that he had created with an offensive rebound. Tyshawn Myles had 2 shots in 19 minutes, and you guessed it his lone bucket was a tip in. The two bigs went a combined 38 minutes and only once were passed the ball in a position to take a shot. In a game where they had the advantage all night and the opponent stayed almost entirely in man. It was staggering mismanagement by their guards, and stunning to see after the way the big men kept the team in the prior contest at Temple. And it’s the reason this game was close.
The Dragons shot just 39% from two point range (they shot 39% from three point range as well) behind a barrage of floaters, contorted, contested driving layups, and mid range jumpers. Lee and Mojica managed to go just 20% (4-20) from inside the arc (they were 5-12 from 3) while the big men were never furnished with the late dish for the score. On the other side, the wings couldn’t stay in front of Cam Young and he led the Bobcats to 56% shooting from inside the arc. It’s nearly impossible to be outshot by almost 20% from inside the arc and win a basketball game. And its a credit to the other areas of Drexel’s game that they were able to. A complete domination of the boards, an advantage in three point shooting, and a workman like 15-21 from the line kept the Dragons alive here. And that’s why Zach Spiker can say after the game “Individually we can play better. Collectively we can play better. But we took a step tonight.”
Sometimes its as simple as that. Off a quick turnaround from a game in which they played their tails off at Temple, in front of a crowd which gave them no kind of home court advantage, they beat a team they should beat. If it was a conference game, it’s a win in the standings and they move on. In out of conference, it’s a step. And it’s a reminder. This starting lineup has 5 guys who are legitimate scoring threats. It’s an embarrassment of riches compared to prior Dragon squads. And its a much better team when all 5 are involved in the game. Dragon fans can look forward to Thursday’s game at Loyola (MD) to see if they’ve learned that lesson.
* Troy Harper was dressed but was likely to be used only in end of game free throw situations.
* No new timetables were offered on Harper, Overton and Green
* This was Kurk Lee’s first game of the season without a turnover
* Alihan Demir had 8 rebounds for his second straight game, tying his career high
* Despite dubious shot selection, Tramaine Isabell was hitting everything and was the Dragons leading scorer with 23, his fifth 20+ point effort of the season