By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Drexel 74, Delaware 64 – Box Score
Heading into Thursday night, both Drexel and Delaware entered play with identical 2-14 records in Colonial Athletic Association play. With only one more regular season game coming this weekend, the loser in this rivalry contest would likely earn the distinction of last place in the conference heading into next week’s CAA conference tournament.
However, Drexel head coach Bruiser Flint said after the game that the difference between 9th or 10th place was not on his team’s mind:
“We didn’t discuss anything like that [avoiding last place]. Sometimes, you guys don’t even realize, these kids don’t know what place they’re in…Delaware-Drexel is the rivalry game. We played a tough one down there, thought that we let that one get away from us a little bit down there, and they pulled it out in the end. So in that respect, that’s all we really talked about.”
In the end, the motivation to beat a rival was all the Dragons needed. After a back-and-forth contest most of the way, Drexel broke the game open with a 12-0 run midway through the second half, surging ahead to a 52-41 lead. Drexel caught fire offensively, hitting 14-21 shots after halftime; Delaware head coach Monte Ross lamented his team’s lack of defense in the second half:
“I thought in the first half, we had good recognition of where the shooters were and that sort of thing. We made them rush a little more than we did in the second half. Clearly, in the second half, we didn’t guard well enough at all.”
One of the biggest reason for the Dragons’ success in the second half was one of the smallest players on the court. After dealing with foul trouble in the first half, freshman point guard Terrell Allen scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half. Allen was extremely efficient all evening, hitting 4 of 5 shots from the field and going 10-10 from the foul line; he also dished out 3 assists without recording a turnover.
The game against Delaware marked the third straight contest in which Allen has scored at least 18 points. Allen spoke after the game about his recent success:
“I think in the beginning [of the season], I was just trying to score too much, just trying to go out there and score, taking chances, turning the ball over a lot. Now, I’m just finding my teammates, and just taking the open shots that are there. I’m getting a lot of confidence in my jump shot, attacking the basket, finding others for easy baskets. It helps the team a lot.”
Coach Flint had nothing but praise for his freshman in the post-game press conference:
“One of our things in some of the tight games was we turned it over. So we haven’t been doing that. So that’s one of the good things. A lot of that has to do with ‘Rell [Allen]. ‘Rell’s been doing a great job taking care of the ball…I always tell him…Chris Paul, and not Kyrie Irving…Irving tries to score, Chris Paul is a playmaker, and that’s when you’re at your best. And honestly, because of that, he’s scoring more points, because he’s getting more opportunities. But it took him a little while to figure that out.”
While Allen was doing his best CP3 impression, he was also getting plenty of help from a balanced Dragons attack. Senior Kaz Abif recorded his 6th double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds, and fellow forward Rodney Williams added 15 points. Senior Tavon Allen also contributed 18 points, and was responsible for the defining sequence of the game with 2 minutes left. Allen had a huge block at the top of the key, recovered the loose ball in transition, and scored to put Drexel up 12 points and seal the victory.
Tavon Allen doing it all for @Drexel_MBB.
— CAA Basketball (@CAABasketball) February 26, 2016
As for the Blue Hens, forward Marvin King-Davis scored 24 points on 10-17 shooting, but everyone else combined to shoot just 12-40 (30.0%). Delaware has been short-handed due to injuries this season, and Coach Ross discussed his “unconventional” motivational tactics:
“I’ve told those guys all year long that we have enough to win, we have enough in here to win. Now, is that true? It’s not always my job to be truthful with those guys.”
But while Delaware continues to struggle, Drexel is in the midst of its best stretch of the season. Following a win against William & Mary, topping the Blue Hens makes for Drexel’s first winning streak of the season. With the team’s regular season finale coming this Saturday, hopefully they can continue capping off this extremely disappointing season on a positive note.