Drexel Dragons defeated the Fairfield Stags 65-47 in the opening match of the Market Street Challenge.
Fairfield would score the game’s first points through Stags freshman Peyton Smith, but that would be the last time that Fairfield led the game.
Graduate student Luke House immediately responded with a three-pointer, giving the Dragons the lead. Drexel would hold onto the lead for thirty-nine minutes, never letting Fairfield within arms reach of the lead.
Drexel was able to control the game early on in the first half. Drexel’s aggressive defensive style caused problems for Fairfield as the Dragon’s full-court press proved effective.
When Fairfield was able to get into the paint they had to face Drexel’s defense head-on. Five minutes into the game, Fairfield’s Brycen Goodine learned the hard way when senior guard Yame Butler blocked his layup.
The Dragon’s defense was heavily effective through their rebounding. Amari Williams and Lamar Oden Jr. had 13 and 10 rebounds respectively, holding Fairfield to only two second-chance points throughout the whole game. Drexel outrebounded Fairfield 42-26, with 9 offensive rebounds that led to 10 second-chance points for the Dragons.
Drexel’s ability to switch the court and go on fast breaks also helped them control the game and extend their lead. An Oden Jr. defensive rebound quickly led to a fast break and a Garfield Turner layup that gave the Dragons an 18-4 lead.
As the end of the first half neared, a quick inbounds pass found the hands of Jamie Bergens, who sprinted down the court and drained a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the half. Drexel led 39-20 with all the momentum on their side.
The second half began with the same Drexel dominance in the first. A Williams layup and a Justin Moore jump shot extended the Dragon’s lead to 43-22.
A Moore steal on Fairfield’s Jasper Floyd and a slam dunk had the entire crowd of 1,706 people on their feet as they continued to dominate the half.
When the starting five was not on the court, Drexel’s bench was able to maintain control. The likes of Mate Okros, Bergens and Turner played an immense role in Drexel’s 29 bench points. Turner went 4-4 from the field and had nine points before leaving the game following a double-flagrant foul on Fairfield’s James Johns Jr.
House’s pull-up jump shot, midway through the second half gave the Dragons their largest lead of the night at 27 points. Dragons lead 53-26.
Williams continued to wreak havoc on defense. His block on Fairfield guard Louis Bleechmore late in the second half was his second of the night. He scored another layup before leaving the game to a roar of cheers from the Drexel crowd. Williams finished the game with a 13 point 13 rebound double-double along with 3 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal.
“I think my team did a good job just trying to find me in the post, it was not always open but just to get the look and I think it’s just crashing the boards too I feel like as a team we all crash the boards really and that’s why we get a lot of rebound together,” said Williams.
Triple zeros hit as the Dragons won 65-47. They go 2-2 on the season that’s still very early on with a lot of basketball left to be played. Drexel would go on to take down Queens (N.C.) in the final of the Market Street Challenge two days later.