In the first game of the season, Philly sports fans were treated with an intense back-and-forth battle between the Drexel Men’s basketball team and Temple Uni- versity. Drexel made the short trip to Temple’s Liacouras Center. The Temple faithful was rocking in excitement for the debut of for- mer Sixer and Temple alum Aaron McKie, who was named Temple’s head coach on April 2. The crowd also used an interesting tactic of singing songs, such as Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend,” when Drexel was at the foul line in an attempt to distract the shooter. The tactic proved to be worthwhile as Drex- el shot only 72% from the free throw line on the night.
The Dragons’ first game of the season featured some new faces who are expected to be key pieces to the team this year. The most impressive debut came from freshman T.J. Bickerstaff who displayed his 6’8 frame with multiple reverse layups gliding through the defense. The 2018 Georgia 4A Player of the Year finished Tuesday’s game with an impressive 16 points (6-11 FG) and seven rebounds.
There were times in the first half when it looked like Temple was going to break away from Drexel after multiple dunks, including one from senior Quinton Rose after the 12 minute mark, getting the Temple crowd out of their seats. During that sequence, Temple went on an 11-2 run only for Drexel to retaliate with an 8-0 run. This was thanks in part to clutch three-pointers by sopho- mores Matey Juric and Camren Wynter, which helped Drexel tie the game at 31-31 going into the second half. Junior James But- ler made his presence known on the glass, grabbing nine of his 15 boards in the first half and fueling the Dragons 8-0 run in the first half.
In the second half, the Dragons were able to keep up with Temple through the first 15 minutes, but back-to-back turnovers by senior Kurk Lee proved to be costly as Temple was able to take advantage. Thanks to a turnover by Temple junior Nate Pierre-Louis, Drexel made a comeback to lead five points with about a minute left.
The final score of the game was 60-52, giving Aaron McKie his first career victory as the head coach of Temple basketball. Despite sticking with Temple throughout the whole game, Drexel had many self-inflicted wounds and came up with defeat. As a team, the Dragons shot 35% from the field and a dreadful 20% from the three-point line. Part of the reason for the poor three-point percentage may be because the three-point line this year has moved from 20 feet, 9 inches to 22 feet, 1.75 inches. Despite that, the Dragons need to clean up some of their mistakes against Temple and get ready for Friday’s game when they host Niagara University.