It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t necessarily impressive, but the Drexel University men’s basketball team topped Towson University, 55-41, Jan. 8 to snap its seven-game losing streak.
The Dragons used an explosive start to the second half and big plays from their best player in crunch time to end the skid. Junior guard Damion Lee finished with a team-high 16 points on 12 shots in 38 minutes.
Coming out of halftime tied with the Tigers, Drexel began the second stanza on a 6-1 run before the first media timeout, building a modest lead that the Dragons maintained for the majority of the second half. Towson repeatedly tried to cut into the gap, but never managed to get closer than five points.
With two and a half minutes to go and the Drexel lead at five points, Lee hit a three-pointer late in the possession, and then stole the ball and threw home a slam dunk on the ensuing possession. The dunk gave the Dragons their first double-digit lead in nearly a month with less than two minutes to play.
After a month of misery in University City, the Dragons held on to the lead as the clock wound to zero at SECU Arena.
The win marked the Dragons’ first victory since a 59-36 win over the University of Southern Mississippi Nov. 30. It was the longest losing streak of head coach James “Bruiser” Flint’s career.
While managing just 55 points on the night, Drexel won by eliminating mistakes that had plagued the team for weeks.
Flint had maligned his team’s penchant for turning the ball over with reckless abandon in the first dozen games of the year. Against Towson the Dragons committed just three turnovers all night, including forgoing turnovers altogether in the final 20 minutes of the game. Towson didn’t score a single point off turnovers, while Drexel poured in 13 points off turnovers.
Lee once again led the Dragons in points, a common thread this season as the junior has established himself as one of the best scorers in the Colonial Athletic Association.
But he also received help from his teammates in the streak-snapping victory.
Three different Drexel players finished the night in double digits, including senior guard Freddie Wilson, who was averaging 3.9 points per game entering the contest and shooting 23.6 percent for the year.
The senior had scored more than six points just one time before dropping a season-high 14 on the Tigers, hitting three of five attempts from the floor and eight of 12 from the charity stripe.
Despite taking six fewer shots in the first half, Drexel was able to keep it tied going into the break by locking down on defense, offering up a vintage Bruiser Flint effort. The Tigers missed 10 of their last 12 field goal attempts of the first half, and the Dragons strung together a pair of 6-0 runs in the low scoring first stanza.
Freshman guard Sammy Mojica Jr. and Lee kept Drexel afloat in the first half, scoring 11 of the team’s 22 points on seven field goal attempts. The rest of the team scored 11 points on 10 attempts.
Mojica finished the night with seven points, three rebounds and three assists as the young guard continued to progress. After breaking out with 14 points against Penn State University Dec. 20, Mojica has averaged 6.8 points per game in his past five outings.
Junior guard Tavon Allen rebounded from a dismal game in the Dragons’ brutal loss to the College of William & Mary Jan. 5, in which he made just one of 14 field goal attempts. Against the Tigers Allen piled up 10 points, missing all five of his three-point attempts but making enough baskets to help the Dragons’ offense out-pace Towson’s porous showing.
Drexel returns to action Saturday, Jan. 10, when the Dragons head to the University of North Carolina Wilmington to take on the Seahawks (7-7, 2-1 CAA) at 7 p.m.