The Dragons are coming.
With a skin-of-their-teeth, tooth-and-nail 67-63 win at Elon University Feb. 5, the Drexel University men’s basketball team has won four games in a row, six of its last nine and has won more conference games than it has lost for the first time all season.
The fourth win of the streak started with a series of bangs as the Dragons carried momentum from their Jan. 31 win over the University of North Carolina Wilmington at home into North Carolina itself. Their first six shots of the night all found the bottom of the net, and by the time the first media timeout rolled around the Dragons had a 15-10 lead.
That advantage ballooned to 28-16 on a dunk from junior guard Damion Lee, just 11 minutes and 57 seconds into the game. The Dragons wound up hitting 12 of their first 19 field goal attempts, and built a lead that wouldn’t be surrendered for the rest of the night.
But after the first 12 minutes, Drexel left more than a little to be desired from the floor, Lee included. The leading scorer in the Colonial Athletic Association finished the game with just 16 points, his fewest since scoring 14 points Jan. 15 against James Madison University.
The junior guard scored 13 of those points in the first half, when he knocked down five of his eight field goal attempts. In the second half Lee went cold, scoring just three points on one-of-five shooting, leaving the door open for Elon to close the gap and give the Dragons more than a few problems.
Enter Drexel’s newfound secondary scoring, which has played a huge role in the team’s recent renaissance.
Junior guard Tavon Allen headed the Dragons’ supporting cast, turning in an uncharacteristically controlled and efficient performance on the offensive end. Allen finished the night with 14 points on six-of-11 shooting, hitting two of four attempts from deep, and added five rebounds before fouling out late in the second half.
Freshman guard Sammy Mojica contributed as well, continuing to grow his game as the season progresses. Head coach James “Bruiser” Flint has been complimentary of what Mojica brings to the team on the offensive end, and this time was no different.
With the Dragons in need of fuel from the field in the second half, Mojica poured in 12 points on four-of-seven shooting from the field, including two three-pointers. Mojica hit two foul shots down the stretch to keep the Phoenix out of swinging distance and finished with 14 points, his fourth straight game in double-digits.
The freshman is averaging 12.3 points per game on 57.6 percent shooting in his last four outings, all Drexel wins.
And sophomore forward Mohamed Bah added 10 points and nine rebounds in just 21 minutes of action, making the most of his limited playing time. The 10 points tied a season high for the big man, while the nine rebounds set a season high.
The Dragons’ secondary scoring was big, and it was necessary against the relentless Phoenix.
After building that 28-16 lead in the first half, Lee and the Dragons scored just three points in the rest of the first half while the Phoenix scored 10 to make it a five-point game at halftime. When Elon guard Tanner Samson knocked down a pair of three-pointers to start the second stanza and pull Elon within one point after two minutes of play, Drexel was in need of a jumpstart.
So Allen held down the fort, scoring six of the Dragons’ next 10 points and leading a charge that turned the one-point lead into a nine-point advantage with 12:08 to play.
For a team that tied Flint’s career low in points in a single game three weeks ago, the Dragons’ offensive rejuvenation has been a revelation.
In the first seven games of CAA play, the team was averaging 55.0 points per game and won just two of those seven games. In the past four games, all wins, the Dragons are averaging 67.5 points per game, a resounding departure from Flint’s preferred playing style of defense-first basketball.
But the offense is clicking, the Dragons are winning and momentum is on their side. Flint isn’t likely to start arguing with those results.
Drexel returns to action Feb. 7 at the College of Charleston (7-17, 2-9) at 5 p.m.