After losing to University of North Carolina Wilmington by a score of 73-68, Drexel’s season has ended. For the second year in a row, Drexel has fallen out of the CAA playoffs in a tightly contested four-seed versus five-seed matchup.
For the second time this season, the Dragons and the Seahawks matched up in a hard fought, blow-for-blow battle. For the second time this season, Drexel had a double digits lead over UNCW at one point during the game. And, for the second time this season, Drexel suffered critical injuries during the game that rendered the squad depleted, causing them to come up just short of a victory.
In the first matchup between Drexel and UNCW, the Dragons were without either of their rotational point guards, and Amari Williams left the game early with an injury. Yame Butler was able to nearly single-handedly keep Drexel in the game before they narrowly fell in double overtime. In this matchup, Justin Moore, the CAA All-Rookie team point guard, had returned for Drexel. Some thought that the combination of an insurgent Butler paired with a resurgent Moore would be enough to push the Dragons through to the quarter-finals, however, after just six minutes on the floor, Butler suffered a gruesome injury that saw him leave the Drexel sideline on crutches and in a walking boot.
Butler’s departure did not impede Drexel’s ability to build a 12 point lead with 12 minutes remaining in the game, however, this lead entirely vanished in just three minutes. At this point, it was clear that Drexel did not have the firepower to punch back when UNCW started getting hot from the floor, something that Butler has shown a deft ability for over the past month of conference play. To make matters worse, Mate Okros left the game in a walking boot with eight minutes left.
Despite being undermanned for the final stretch of play, Drexel found themselves with the ball down just three points with 15 seconds left on the clock. Carrying the ball up the floor, Justin Moore had an opportunity to tie the game, but his shot from beyond the arc came up short, ensuring UNCW’s win and continuation into the quarter-finals.
Where Drexel significantly underperformed throughout the most important moments of the second half was at the free throw line. The Dragons shot an abysmal 60% from the charity stripe, leaving nine “free” points on the table.
After the game, Coach Zach Spiker summarized the contest saying, “We built a lead and weren’t able to capitalize on it. Credit goes to Wilmington for doing the things that they could control, they controlled the offensive glass, hit a couple shots. That was one of the big differences in the game.”
When asked about his message to the players after the loss, Coach Spiker highlighted the lone player on the team who is out of collegiate eligibility, Coletrane Washington.
“We have one guy who has exhausted his eligibility, so we took a few minutes to acknowledge and celebrate what all Coletrane Washington has done in his time here at Drexel… and I thought you saw the best of his abilities today. We are going to miss him in this program,” said Spiker.
Spiker expanded that, “The message was short for the rest of the guys. We will regroup, but it’s a raw locker room and I don’t think words can necessarily do it justice. A tightly contested quarter final game is just the beginning for this group, and a lot of it has to do with [Justin Moore].”
With the Men’s Basketball season over, all attention is on Women’s Basketball as Keishana Washington seeks to reclaim Drexel’s status as Champions in the CAA Tournament beginning March 10th against the winner of Monmouth versus Charleston, at SECU Arena in Maryland.