It was within reach all night, but in the end the Drexel men’s basketball team came up short against Saint Joseph’s University, falling 52–49, Monday, Nov. 17.
Junior guard Damion Lee led the Dragons with 23 points, a big performance against the city rival Hawks.
But it wasn’t enough.
For St. Joe’s, forward James Demery and DeAndre Bembry fueled Phil Martelli’s offense with a combined 25 points, making light of a good, not great, Drexel front court.
A cold stretch from the Dragons midway through the second half saw a fast second-half start evaporate.
Drexel missed 11 of 13 field goal attempts and allowed the Hawks to muscle their way back into the game. St. Joe’s scored 12 unanswered points to rally from down seven to up five with just under nine minutes to play in the game.
After tying the game at 47 apiece with 2:50 to play, St. Joe’s scored four straight to take a 51-47 lead with 29 seconds remaining.
The Dragons played a much smarter first half than in the season opener on Monday night, avoiding early foul trouble, which allowed Damion Lee to remain on the floor for 19 minutes of the first stanza. Lee piled up 10 points on eight shots, leading the way for the Drexel offense to take a 25-24 lead into the break.
St. Joe’s employed a full-court press from the beginning of the game on freshman guard Rashann London with the hope of forcing the inexperienced floor general into bad decisions. London committed two turnovers in the first half, one more than he committed in the entire season opener in Colorado on Nov. 14.
The Hawks capitalized on the turnovers, especially guard DeAndre Bembry, who led all Hawks with nine points, but on an inefficient 4-of-11 shooting. The entire St. Joe’s offense was inefficient in the first twenty minutes, shooting just 33 percent from the field.
Performance of the Night
Junior Drexel guard Damion Lee, who scored 23 points in his first game at the Daskalakis Athletic Center since March 2, 2013.
Lee attacked the St. Joe’s defense all night long, slicing the lane with sometimes reckless abandon and stretching the Hawks’ man defense with his range.
He buried 6 of 18 shots on the night, including 2 of 7 from behind the arc.
Inside the box score
Drexel held the rebounding advantage at halftime for the second straight game, out-rebounding the Hawks 19-15 in the first twenty minutes. For the second straight time they also lost the edge after the half, finishing the game with 35 rebounds to St. Joe’s 38.
St. Joe’s attempted 22 foul shots to Drexel’s 11. With 11 minutes remaining in the game, Drexel had attempted one to St. Joe’s 10.
The Dragons knocked down 3 of 12 shots from behind the arc, while holding St. Joe’s to 1 of 11 shooting from deep.
Monday night saw the Dragons pick up six — count ’em, six — dunks, five coming in the first half. The high-energy crowd fed into an amped-up offense, which in turn gave the crowd something to roar about.
A Freddie Wilson alley-oop to Rodney Williams late in the first half was the first of two alley-oops on the night, the second coming on the first play of the second half.
Drexel (0-2) heads to Charleston, S.C., to take on the University of Miami (2-0) in the first round of the Charleston Classic tournament Nov. 20 at 3:00 p.m.
St. Joe’s (1-1) will hop on a plane and fly to Spokane, Wa., to take on No. 13 Gonzaga University Nov. 17 at 11:00 p.m.