By Marshall Fleming
There are a ton of memorable games, moments, and storylines during a basketball season. Between the men’s and women’s teams they play over 60 games, but usually a handful stand out as ones worth looking back on as you build for the next year, and some that will be remembered for ages.
So before the #DU18for18 digs into the upcoming season, let’s look back on the best from last year. There were actually a lot to pick from, and we’ll get into the top five. But some of the ones that at least deserve an honorable mention…
- The men’s team beating JMU to advance in the CAA tournament in a rematch of the opening round from the previous year, giving Spiker his 1st tourney win
- The women’s 16-game home winning streak to stay undefeated at the DAC going into the CAA Championship Game on their home court
- Homecoming weekend, where the men’s and women’s teams combined for four home wins in four days, at a time when it seemed like (for those of us who root for Philly pro sports too) that none of our teams would ever lose again
And as great as those games, and storylines were, they didn’t quite crack the top five, but here are the ones that did…
#5: Drexel Beats Houston
Houston was good last year – like, six-seed in the NCAA tournament and a possession away from the Sweet 16, good. A matchup against the Cougars just three games into the season was a great measuring stick for second year coach Zach Spiker and the fans to see how talented this roster really was.
But the team didn’t take it as a measuring stick. They play, to win, the game, as the saying goes. And that’s just what they did. A big second half, including 52% shooting and nearly 90% from the charity stripe (with the guards going 15-15) resulted in an 84-80 win against the team that would end the season ranked #21 in the nation. It was a sign of the potential of the team – as long as they could keep the effort consistent.
#4: Stretch’s monster game against Charleston in the CAA tournament
Sadly, some inconsistent play in the CAA schedule resulted in the guys playing in the first round of the conference tournament, and after getting past JMU, had to face the top seeded College of Charleston, while the tournament was held in their city. (At least it wasn’t a Richmond-VCU situation where they get the tournament 25 years in a row).
But the guys, and especially Austin “Stretch” Williams who had already emerged as a rim protector, came to play. His box score shows only 3 blocks, but he definitely affected more shots than that as Drexel held a 9 point lead with 10 minutes to go in the second half. Unfortunately tired legs caught up to them as they shot 3-18 from three and Charleston’s fresh legs off the first-round bye and home crowd carried them to a run at the end of the game and ultimately to the CAA title,
A special shout out to the DAC Pack who loaded up a bus despite inclement weather and raced down to this game. As Drexel built their lead, the students and fans there were definitely louder than the home crowd. A sign of good things to come from the student section for the upcoming season.
#3: Beating UD in OT to Advance to the CAA Championship
There’s a lot to be nervous about when your team’s down five with 3 minutes to play in a conference semi-final. It’s even worse when the opponent is your arch rival who you HATE losing to and that team has the Play of the Year. But if you’ve watched Denise Dillon’s team this year or pretty much any other year during her tenure, you know they stay composed. Accompanying that composure was the execution to end regulation on a 7-2 run to force OT.
In OT, they never looked back and never trailed, building a seven point lead en route to a 58-53 win and a chance to play for the CAA Championship, and adding another memorable moment in the Drexel-Delaware rivalry.
#2: A CAA Championship Game in Front of a Packed DAC
It may seem odd to have a loss be the #2 moment of the 2017-2018 season, and surely a win would have made this #1. But following the 16-game home winning streak and that OT win against UD in the semi-finals, the crowds came out in force for a chance to see the women clinch their second ever trip to the NCAA tournament.
A 10-0 run to claw back within 6 points ultimately came up short and Elon won their second straight title. But the crowd atmosphere, especially during that run, was the best the DAC has seen in a while. A loud student section, packed Blue and Gold Club alumni section, and playing meaningful basketball at the end of the season? That all combines for the #2 moment of the year.
#1: Setting the NCAA D1 Record for Largest Comeback in a Game
A home game against Delaware usually brings something new to the table. Rarely does it bring an NCAA record-setting performance.
When a team is down 34 points in the first half to their arch rival, it can often be deflating for both the players and fans. Even the most die-hand fans in attendance are reasonable enough to think the game is over at that point. Some of ours even left at halftime (you know who you are) with the deficit at 29.
There are plenty of game stories out there that recap what happened, so we’ll just let this clip of the steal-double-save-out-of-bounds-three-pointer do the talking.
Besides the fact that it was a record-setting game against Delaware, what makes this the top moment of last season is the amount of people who were talking about Drexel afterward. Those in attendance stayed out for post-game beers later than they normally do. Friends who haven’t been to the DAC in years were texting about it and posting it online. SportsCenter led with the game highlights. This is what Drexel basketball has been, and frankly can and should be. A program to go crazy for. And for one night in late February, it was.