With just over four minutes remaining in the first half Nov. 15 in Lawrenceville, N.J., the Rider Broncs led the Dragons 26-18 and things weren’t looking too good for the Colonial Athletic Association favorites. But that thought was quickly demolished as Drexel proceeded to go on a 10-2 run to head into the locker room tied with Rider at 28 apiece.
Drexel carried the momentum from the end of the first half into the second, starting with a 9-1 run out of the gate and never turning back. Every time the Broncs would come close to trimming the Dragons’ lead down, Drexel would kill that momentum with another huge scoring run, exemplified by their 18-0 run after Rider trimmed the score to 43-40.
The Dragons ended up pushing the score out to a comfortable lead over a depleted Rider squad, which Drexel was favored to beat. They finished off the Broncs with a final score of 80-62, using mainly a seven-man rotation. The game tipped off at 6 a.m. as part of ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.
With the Dragons’ 2010-11 leading scorer, junior guard Chris Fouch, out with knee issues for the early part of the season, other players needed to step up to fill the void. As expected, senior forward Samme Givens did just that, scoring a game-high-tying 21 points in addition to his seven rebounds. He also took advantage of this national stage to show everyone how a 6-foot-5 forward can be dangerous — he earned a significant amount of praise from ESPN analysts Andy Katz and Doug Gottlieb.
In addition, another player stepped up, a player who showed flashes of immense talent last season in now-sophomore point guard Frantz Massenat. The 6-foot-4 Ewing, N.J. native tied Givens with a game-high 21 points along with his four assists in front of a home crowd consisting of friends, family and former teammates. Massenat took over the game toward the end of the second half before fouling out, showing just how talented a player he can be.
Other key contributors were freshman guard Damion Lee and forward Kazembe Abif. Lee started and played all 40 minutes in his first game in a Drexel uniform. The Baltimore native scored 14 points and nine rebounds in his debut, reassuring Drexel Head Coach James “Bruiser” Flint that his team should be just fine until the return of Fouch. Lee was able to perform well despite having an obvious case of the first-game jitters. The Dragons’ final bucket of the game was a nonchalant jumper by Lee from just inside the arc.
Abif saw some major minutes due to junior forward Daryl McCoy and sophomore Dartaye Ruffin getting in early foul trouble. The Elizabeth, N.J. native had seven points and four rebounds, including an emphatic dunk on a pass from Massenat to cut the Rider lead to two toward the end of the first half.
U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam
The Dragons’ next task will be their preliminary game of the U.S. Virgin Island Paradise Jam against Norfolk State Nov. 18 in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The Spartans have already been in St. Thomas enjoying the sites as well as the hard court.
The other teams participating in this tournament aside from Drexel and the Spartans are Drake University, the Associated Press’ No. 21 Marquette University, the University of Mississippi, Texas Christian University, the University of Virginia and Winthrop University.
The Dragons will play Nov. 20 if they win against the Spartans, or Nov. 19 if they lose. Either way Drexel will play either TCU or Virginia in the next round of tournament action.