The new look Dragons stumbled out of the 2015-16 season starting gate on Hawk Hill last night before a strong late game push nearly saw them overtake their cross-city rivals in an 82-81 defeat. Drexel's frontcourt, which was tasked with attempting to slow down perhaps the city's best player in DeAndre' Bembry, got into foul trouble quickly in the first half. Both starters, Rodney Williams and Kazembe Abif, were lifted from the game in the first five minutes due to foul trouble. Neither player returned in the first half.
As the second half progressed, it seemed like every time the Dragons were poised to make a run the Hawks had an answer. Tavon Allen (16 second half points) and Terrell Allen (11) helped aid a furious comeback attempt in the game's final minutes. The senior Abif showed off his mid-range shooting abilities and picked up eight points on 4-of-6 shooting. After giving the ball away eight times in the first half, Drexel committed just two turnovers in the second frame.
The team's comeback ran out of time, with London hitting his first three pointer of the season as time expired and the Dragons facing a four point deficit. While the one point loss isn't the result anybody was hoping for, there are a number of positives to take away from last night's game. The play of freshman Terrell Allen, who finished with 18 points (7-13 from the field), four assists to one turnover and four steals in a game-high thirty-six minutes was impressive to watch. Allen got the nod at the point over an injured Major Canady. Last year's starting point guard, Rashann London, started the game at the two.
Drexel's defense was on point for much of the second half, forcing eight turnovers and a few expired shot clock violations. The Dragons had trouble all night keeping Bembry in check and the Hawks off the free throw line. St. Joes went to the charity stripe nearly forty (!) times, hitting 28 of 39 free throws. By comparison, Drexel went 18 of 28, good for just 64%. The Dragons' guards shot a combined 15 of 16 from the line. The Drexel bigs were less than stellar with Rodney Williams going 1 of 4, Bah 0 of 4, and Austin Williams 2 of 4.
Of note, the Dragons started the game with three young guards in the backcourt with Terrell Allen at the point, Rashann London at the two, and Sammy Mojica at the three. Senior leader Tavon Allen and junior transfer Ahmad Fields did their work off of the bench. Drexel's depth really showed in the opener, especially considering the foul trouble both teams seemed to be in all night. In total, ten different Dragons saw the court for at least eight minutes of play.
Drexel will return to action on Wednesday evening when they return to the DAC to take on reigning Big South champion High Point. The Panthers dropped their opener on Friday night to Texas Tech by a score of 77-73.