The Drexel Dragons welcomed the Delaware Fighting Blue Hens to a packed Daskalakis Athletic Center of 2,461 attendees. A fierce CAA rival and the full capacity stadium during homecoming weekend were sure to create a buzzing crowd atmosphere. The Dragons had defeated Monmouth 78-74 a few days before and hoped to continue their dominant form in CAA conference play.
This was the first game that the DAC sold out since they played Temple in mid-November of last year. That game was Drexel’s debut in the Philadelphia Big 5 as well as their home opener.
Drexel came out of the gates strong, with a 12-4 lead in the first four minutes of the game. Justin Moore had an assist and five minutes in the opening two minutes, while Amari Williams had two assists and a block that was met by cheers from the Drexel fans.
However, Delaware wouldn’t let the Dragons establish a lead. The Blue Hens regrouped during the TV timeout and clawed their way back to take a three-point lead midway through the first half.
The remainder of the half went back and forth between the two sides. Luke House’s turnaround jumper reestablished a six point Drexel lead. House had four points in the first half.
But a second chance putback from Delaware would level the scores as the halftime buzzer sounded. Drexel and Delaware walked into their locker rooms tied at 34-34 and nothing to separate the two. The Dragons led by five with three and a half minutes remaining but missed their final five shots and allowed Delaware to come back.
The second half was all Drexel as they established a lead that Delaware wasn’t able to come back from. Mate Okros’ two three pointers got the DAC roaring in cheers and a Lucas Monroe jump shot gave the Dragons an eight point lead that forced a Delaware timeout.
With less than three minutes remaining, Justin Moore found an open lane, drove in, and slammed a two-handed dunk that ignited another cheer from the crowd. With ten seconds left and the victory surely in Drexel’s hands, Lucas Monroe flew in from the point and slammed a dunk of his own to ice the game, running back to the Drexel student section with outstretched arms, blowing kisses to the crowd.
“I wasn’t going to dunk it, but the lane opened and I saw the basket and I knew the crowd would love it so I just did it,” said Lucas Monroe on his dunk late in the game.
Monroe played a well-rounded game, scoring a career-high 14 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. He also shot an efficient 7-9 from the field.
“I feel more comfortable on the court now just from playing more, but I’ve never been a big-time scorer. I’ve scored 14 points before, never been able to get past it, but I can bring a lot of other things like rebounding and defending,” said Monroe, reflecting on his performance.
Triple zeros ended the match where the Dragons finished with a 19 point lead over the Blue Hens. Drexel scored 52 points in the second half whilst Delaware could only muster up 33.
“It was really cool to have many fans at the game. Everyone’s really hyped, but we have a 1-0 mindset. So we were 1-0 today, tomorrow we’re 0-0,” said Monroe.
“It was definitely exciting. The student section, fans, was a sold-out game, just think we’re even here right now. We were enjoying it while it lasts right now, but we know as soon as Monday hits we get back to practice it’s the only mindset,” said Amari Williams.
Drexel’s dominance in the second half can be seen through the stat sheets. They shot 70.4% on 19-27 shooting and 60% from three on 6-10 shooting. Along with this Drexel had five players that scored double-digit points: Lucas Monroe, 14 points; Mate Okros, 12 points; Amari Williams, 14 points; Justin Moore, 18 points; and Kobe Magee;, 15 points. Together they scored 85% of Drexel’s points.
“We’re just figuring it out. Knowing our roles, it takes the pressure off each other,” said Amari Williams.
“I think one of the things about the team, is there’s times when some of the starters were sitting on the bench and I think that’s the beauty of this team. It’s nice to know when you know you have guys that are going to come in and there’s not going to be any dropoff,” added Monroe.
The Dragons started the season 7-6 from their out-of-conference matchups, but since the Delaware game, Drexel is 5-0 from CAA conference play and sits comfortably atop the standings.
“I think there’s a lot of belief and confidence in our locker room in each other and certainly from our staff to our players. You look at how we play now to how we played then, certainly, we’ve improved offensively and taking care of the basketball. The guys to their credit I thought they handled all that really well,” said Coach Spiker on the season so far.
With the back half of the season to play and the upcoming CAA conference tournament on the horizon. Drexel has the potential to earn a bid into the NCAA tournament. As the leaders of the CAA conference, they hold their destiny as the season progresses forward.