Dragons earn hard-fought victory over rival Delaware
Issue date: 2/16/07 Section: Sports
Despite Delaware's struggles this season, this year's version of the rivalry series was no different. Drexel needed a late run to take care of the Blue Hens Feb. 10 at the Daskalakis Athletic Center, winning 77-62.
"This is Drexel-Delaware. Since I've been here, it's always been a tough game," Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said. "These guys play hard against us, and if we don't come ready, we're gonna lose."
Scott Rodgers established a career high with 21 points on 9-14 shooting. Rodgers' strong performance helped him break out of a rut, as he had a total of three field goals in his previous four games. Flint credited his performance to improved patience on the offensive end.
"[Rodgers] played well today," Flint said. "Scott is a work in progress. I got to slow him down. That man goes 1,000 miles per hour sometimes; drives me absolutely nuts."
The Dragons (19-6, 11-4 CAA) were seemingly in control of the lowly Blue Hens (5-21, 3-12) after a 16-0 run to take a 48-32 lead. However, the Blue Hens made a valiant comeback to trim the Dragons' lead to three with under ten minutes remaining. The Hens ran out of gas, though, and Drexel was able to gain some separation thanks to solid free-throw shooting down the stretch.
Delaware coach Monté Ross could have easily made excuses for his team because he had only six players to suit up. Ross has lost six scholarship players this season for a myriad of reasons, but he has tried to keep a positive spin on the team.
"We don't look for sympathy," Ross said. "This is what we have and that's what we are going into battle with every single night."
All six Delaware players were on the floor for at least 25 minutes, and it showed. Drexel was able to exploit the Blue Hens' defense on the fast break by a 16-0 margin. Rodgers accounted for eight of those points.
"I think in the first half, we turned the ball over too much, and they got too many fast-break points," Delaware forward Sam McMahon said.
Rodgers was not the only Dragon scoring with regularity. Frank Elegar (19), Bashir Mason (15) and Dominick Mejia (11) each scored in double figures.
Along with the 19 points, Elegar grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists. That performance, along with his 26-point tear against Hofstra, earned him CAA Co-player of the Week honors.
Mason and Mejia both had a season-high in assists with eight and five respectively. As a team, the Dragons shared the ball well, tallying 22 assists. That number destroys their previous best in that category - 16 against Florida Gulf Coast University.
McMahon contributed most of Delaware's offense; for most of the game, it seemed like he could not miss. He scored a career-high 27 points for the Blue Hens with the aid of 4-6 shooting from beyond-the-arc.
His teammate Herb Courtney struggled from the field, connecting on only 4-17 shots. However, thanks to the high volume of attempts, he managed a double-double. To go along with his 10 points, Courtney grabbed 10 boards.
The Dragons and Blue Hens played in front of a near-sellout crowd at the DAC. The rivalry between these schools is intense and deep; it dates back to 1911. Drexel managed to shrink Delaware's lead in the series to 69-66.
"Drexel is a tough place to play," McMahon said. "It's a great atmosphere. It's small and the fans are right on you, and the fans are great. It's a fun atmosphere, fun to play in."
Chaz Crawford is the only active player in Division I with more than 300 blocks and 700 rebounds. He had 308 and 757, respectively, after the game. … The 19th win for the Dragons was the most for the team since the 1998-99 season.