Final Score: William & Mary 85, Drexel 63
Key to the Game: Play 40 like the first 10
Drexel Player of the Game: See Below
Next Game: Thursday, January 11 7pm at Delaware
Picked 8th in preseason polls, William & Mary has been the biggest surprise in this young Colonial Athletic Association season. Sunday, they came to Philadelphia, just two days after running over Delaware at the Bob Carpenter Center. In the early stages, the Dragons presented themselves as a speed bump of sorts before William & Mary put their foot down on the accelerator and ran away with the game.
Drexel has not shot the ball well this year and they struggled against the zone when Lafayette was in town earlier this season. Tony Shaver’s Tribe decided to try a similar approach switching from man to a 1-3-1 zone early in the first half. Drexel would be forced to shoot their opponent out of the zone and they responded well. Drexel made 10 of their first 13 shots. The Tribe changed back into man, and eventually Shaver was forced to call a timeout with 12:06 remaining in the half.
The Dragons looked good. Really good. They were maintaining possession. During that 8-minute stretch they turned the ball over just once. They were making The Tribe look like a team that picked near the bottom of the conference. They hung with William & Mary for another two minutes.
Then, with 10 minutes remaining in the half, the Dragons left the building.
William & Mary rode an 11-0 run over the next three minutes that featured four Dragon turnovers on four consecutive possessions. When William & Mary’s David Cohn sank a three with 7:12 remaining, it put The Tribe’s ahead for the first time. They would never look back. The visiting team went on a 27-6 tear in over those last 10 minutes to head to the locker room up 45-34.
The second half was not much prettier, and certainly not noteworthy for Drexel. Cohn continued to shoot well finishing with a game high 26 points on 10 of 14 shooting. Nathan Knight asserted himself on the blocks on route to 19 points and 13 rebounds, his 6th double-double of the season. William & Mary scored 1.21 points per possession as Drexel’s count in the same column fell to .900 by game’s end. The Tribe dominated on the boards besting Drexel 41-30. When it was all said and done, William & Mary walked away with a 85-63 win.
Tyshawn Myles missed his fourth consecutive game with an undisclosed injury, and his absence was most felt on Sunday out of those four games. Tadas Kararinas was the first option off the bench early for Drexel but he was so overmatched by the more physical Knight that later Alihan Demir found himself filling the role of block defender for The Dragons.
Tramaine Isabell had 12 first half points as he sunk his first five shots, the last of which was with 6:43 remaining in the half. He would not score again for more than 22 minutes of game time, sinking his lone second half basket with four and a half minutes to go in the game. Troy Harper started the second half by doing what he does best: drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line. He made three freebies and added a dunk with just under 10 minutes to go in the game but then faded away as was the pattern for the Dragons Sunday afternoon.
Miles Overton played 21 minutes off the bench, scoring five points on 2 of 9 shooting. Austin Williams grabbed just six rebounds and scored five points. Drexel fans were also treated to a scare on The Tribe’s first offensive possession as Williams appeared to bang knees with Nathan Knight. He would head to the bench for a short time to stretch and evaluate himself before returning to the game. Kurk Lee, who had put up a solid string of performances over the last four games, scored just seven points of his own.
After the game, Zach Spiker was asked if there was anyone on the Drexel side of the ball that he would like to highlight. “No,” the coach said, “I think this was a team experience, and we need to experience it in the film room, learn from it and get better.” It is tough to disagree with the coach on this one. The Dragons were absent for the better part of 30 minutes. They scored 28 points in the first ten minutes, and were able to score 35 through the rest of the game. Their ball movement, effective in the early minutes of the game, all but disappeared. Their transition defense was non-existent. Spiker went as far to describe William & Mary’s version of a layup as a wide open three. Drexel could not find a combination of five players on the court that was able to run with The Tribe. Spiker found it difficult to find a bright spot in this game, and the same goes for us here at Always a Dragon, so we are going to pass on naming a “Drexel Player of the Game.”
The best thing that Drexel can do at this point is heed their coach’s advice. This was not a good game, offensively or defensively. They have three days to take what they can from the difficult to watch film, learn from it, and then put this game behind them. With a game against their fiercest rivals on the horizon, the student body, the alumni, and the fans need this team to bound back and do what we, as Dragons, do best: BEAT DELAWARE.