A freshman is the toast of the campus this week as freshman guard Derrick Lee dropped 21 points — 16 in the second half — to completely take over the game against George Mason Jan. 12 at the DAC, en route to a commanding 60-53 victory over the only undefeated team in the conference. Lee hit back-to-back, momentum-swinging three-pointers with just about three minutes remaining in the game, and that stuck a fork in it.
“I guess the basketball gods were on my side today,” Lee said in the postgame interview.
Once the crowd got into it — including a free-dancing young court sweeper — there was no way the Patriots were going to be able to swing the momentum back in their direction.
“Drexel, hands down, has the best crowd in the CAA,” Lee said.
With the win, the Dragons improve to 11-5 on the season, 3-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association and, most importantly, 5-0 at home, where Drexel has been a force to be reckoned with this season.
It wasn’t all pretty though, as the Dragons and Patriots started off the game quite ugly, going almost six minutes into the game without a registered field goal, with only a pair of free throws — one from each team — going on the board as points until junior guard Chris Fouch squirted free on an inbounds play for Drexel, hitting the baseline jumper for the game’s first successful field goal attempt.
Despite the torrid first half, in which the Dragons shot 9-for-28, they managed to come out hot from the locker room and put up 38 points in the second half for the victory.
“I didn’t think we played with any energy in the first half,” head coach Bruiser Flint said. “So I called them a few choice names. … I said the game is going to be about what you’ve got in your chest and in your stomach.”
The Dragons took those “choice words” to heart with those 38 points, and none more than the aforementioned youngster Lee, who was glad to have had a bounce-back performance after his six-point game against Virginia Commonwealth University.
“You can say [the free throws down the stretch against VCU gave me confidence] because the game against VCU, personally, was probably the worst game I’ve played as a collegiate athlete,” Lee said. “So I knew that going into this game, I just had to stay focused, play tough, and then when my shots start falling, continue to shoot, don’t shy away.”
Once the game was officially over, the fans commonly known as the DAC Pack began singing a song made infamous by sporting events everywhere — “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” — as they threw gold and blue ribbon onto the court in celebration.
While You Were Away — The Road to GMU
While most of the Drexel community was taking a much-needed break from the daunting tasks presented by everyday academia, Flint and the Drexel men’s basketball team was hard at work. The Dragons found themselves playing 10 games from the beginning of finals week up until their Jan. 8 victory over VCU at home, leading up to their most recent matchup, which was with George Mason Universityon ESPNU at the Daskalakis Athletic Center Jan. 12 at 8 p.m.
The Dragons were successful for the most part as they posted an 8-2 overall record during that time span leading up to the George Mason game. The only negative is that both of the losses came against CAA opponents the University of Delaware (Dec. 3, 60-71) and Georgia State University (Jan. 2, 44-58).
The game against Delaware was the first of a series of 10 games. The game was in Newark, Del. and was televised on the Comcast Network. The Dragons had two players in double figures in sophomore point guard Frantz Massenat (18 points) and junior guard Derrick Thomas (14), but it wasn’t enough to top the Blue Hens in the CAA season opener, and the Dragons would drop to 2-4 overall on the season on the heels of a 60-71 loss.
Next, the Dragons would welcome Princeton University to the DAC Dec. 10 for the home opener. Drexel would be led by Fouch, who made his first impactful contributions to the Dragons’ game after starting off the season slowly while coming back from off season knee surgery. Fouch would score a game-high 23 points, including 10 free throws in the last 33 seconds to seal the 64-60 victory over the Tigers.
Drexel then hit the road Dec. 13 to Niagara Falls, N.Y. to take on the Niagara Purple Eagles. The Dragons blew the game open after an even first half by opening the second on a 27-3 run. Flint’s crew was carried by three players who scored in double figures — Fouch had a game-high 23 points, freshman guard Damion Lee put up 19 with eight rebounds, and senior forward Samuel Givens chipped in with 17 points and eight boards as well, en route to their 71-58 victory.
Dec. 17 saw the Dragons back at the DAC once again as they edged Bradley University for a close 73-68 victory behind four players who scored in double figures. Leading Drexel was Givens (17 points and 10 rebounds), and he was assisted by Massenat (15), Fouch (14) and Lee (11). Thomas also chipped in with five assists and eight points.
The Dragons next headed back to upstate New York, specifically Binghamton, to face the Bearcats Dec. 22. Drexel, led by Givens and his 15 points, put Binghamton University away handily en route to a 68-44 win, their fourth straight.
The Blue and Gold next returned home for back-to-back games at the DAC, Dec. 28 against Fairfield University and Dec. 31 against St. Francis University (Pa.). Givens took over the first of the two games, carrying the Dragons to a 77-69 win over the Stags by scoring a career-high 31 points while pulling down nine boards. The second of the two games was a bit easier as the Dragons topped the Red Flash 63-42 with four players scoring in double figures, giving Drexel six straight wins.
To start off the new year, Drexel headed down to Atlanta for its second CAA game of the season against Georgia State Jan. 2. But, as already mentioned, the Dragons fell, snapping their six-game win streak and falling to 0-2 in conference play in process. The final score was 44-58 and Drexel’s lone bright spot was Fouch’s 18 points.
Not to fret, as the next two games for the Dragons were both home CAA contests. The first was against the annually torrid Towson Tigers Jan. 4. Drexel did away with the lowly Tigers 60-27 behind 18 points from Givens. Towson’s 27 points was the lowest single-game team score in CAA history.
Finally, the last game leading up to the ESPNU matchup with George Mason was Jan. 8 against VCU. Drexel came out on top 64-58 to even their CAA record to 2-2 behind a career-high 24 points from Massenat. The win would also be the Dragons’ 10th of the season.
What’s Up Next
Flint and company will hit the road Jan. 14 and 18 as they take on two more CAA foes in University of North Carolina Wilmington and Hofstra University, respectively. They will return home Jan. 21 for another conference matchup against the Huskies of Northeastern University.