Final Score: Drexel 89, Rider 77
Drexel Player of the Game: Tramaine Isabell
Key to the Game: Getting to the Rim
Next Game: Thursday, December 7 @ La Salle
The Dragons took to the court on Saturday to try and close out their brief two game homestand against a Rider University that has surprised in the early season. Prior to the game, this looked like two teams going in different directions. Drexel’s past two games were an uninspired loss at NJIT and they didn’t come back strong, squeaking by Lafayette on their home floor, clearly without having any answer for basic 2-3 or 1-3-1 zones. So naturally, because college basketball is what it is, the Dragons left victorious by a 12 point margin.
Some credit will go to Rider coach Kevin Baggett, for reminding Drexel fans of yesteryear. Despite playing a team that had struggled immensely against zones in their prior outing, Baggett kept it man to man for the vast majority of the contest. But while Baggett and his staff may get the assist, it’s the Drexel stars that came out to shine to make the night what it was for the blue and gold.
Tramaine Isabell was the headliner, scoring a career high 35 points in efficient fashion, using just 18 field goal attempts. He added a whopping 13 rebounds as he attacked the defensive glass en route to a double double. He doesn’t get credit for a perfect game after being caught sleeping in transition and giving up some looks on the defensive end – as good as he is on the ball there’s still plenty of work to be done off of it. But the signal is there that if he wants to be a complete player, he can be one of the best that Dragon fans have ever seen. Even despite the defensive lapses, he made it clear that his speed and talent make him the most dangerous Dragon on the roster.
It was one of those days for Rider – not only did Drexel’s least consistent player achieve a career high in points, so did their most consistent. It seems the only “run-stopper” on this team in the early season has been Sammy Mojica. When Drexel has been desperate for a shot, it feels like they’ve almost waited for him to hit one at times. On Saturday, he had company scoring, but that didn’t stop him from going 7/14 from the field, hitting all 6 free throws and finishing the game with 22 points and not a turnover to his name.
The two players with career highs overshadow what was a very good supporting cast. Austin Williams controlled the paint, and the Dragons were noticeably better when he was on the court en route to his 12 point, 5 rebound performance. But perhaps the greatest sign of all for the Dragons was the day from Kurk Lee. His performance won’t make a lot of headlines, but the sophomore point guard had 9 points, 7 boards and 6 assists alongside only 1 turnover in 36 minutes of action. He also had the toughest job on the defensive side, manned up against Rider Sophomore point guard Stevie Jordan, who had an impressive freshman campaign and is top 20 nationally in assist rate this season. Jordan was locked down by Lee, to the tune of 3/10 shooting and 5 turnovers along with his 5 assists. The Dragon point guard has struggled out of the gate this year, and the impressive, workman like performance against the Broncs could be an outstanding first step towards a return to the lofty expectations that were placed on Lee going into this season.
The Dragons will return to the court and attempt to bring the win streak to three against the La Salle Explorers on Thursday night in Olney.