Men’s basketball: Tribe dominates Drexel, 84-66

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Courtesy image / TRIBE ATHLETICS

Jan. 5, William and Mary traveled to Philadelphia for a Colonial Athletic Association matchup against Drexel. The Tribe was looking to bounce back from a close loss to Delaware that gave the College its first CAA loss of the season and pushed its road record to an abysmal 1-7. Meanwhile, Drexel avoided a 0-3 start in conference play with a 79-65 win over Elon. Last season, the Tribe and the Dragons split their season series, with the College cruising to an 85-63 victory at Drexel. Saturday, the Tribe looked to repeat history and gain some momentum with just its second road victory of the 2018-19 season. With junior forward Justin Pierce out, the Tribe (7-9, 3-1 CAA) used a balanced attack to secure its second road win of the season in a wire-to-wire victory, 84-66, over the Dragons (7-10, 1-3 CAA).

After struggling on the offensive end Thursday, the College wasted no time against Drexel, scoring just 15 seconds into the game. Junior forward Nathan Knight had the first two buckets of the game to push the Tribe to a 4-0 lead with 18:30 remaining in the opening half. On the other side, the Dragons made just one field goal in the first five minutes of the game, allowing the College to seize a 10-2 lead. The College hit two threes in the first five minutes, courtesy of redshirt senior forward Paul Rowley and freshman forward Quinn Blair. Knight also had eight points in the first eight minutes, forcing the Dragons to spend a timeout trailing 18-6 with just over 12 minutes left in the half.

Drexel guard Troy Harper tried to spur a comeback with a three-pointer, the Dragons’ first of the game, to stop the bleeding and bring the score to 20-9. Harper also threw down a monster slam as the clock ticked below eight minutes to cut the Tribe’s advantage to single digits, 22-13. Nevertheless, the College used two offensive rebounds to keep the ensuing possession alive and sophomore guard Luke Loewe laid the ball in to push the lead back into double-digits. But, similarly to Thursday’s game against Delaware, the Tribe could not maintain its double-digit advantage and the Dragons were able to creep back into the game before halftime. With six minutes to play in the half, the Tribe clung to a 24-18 edge after the Dragons went on a 5-0 run, highlighted by Harper’s three-point play. The College had balanced scoring in the first half, with eight players scoring en route to a 37-29 halftime lead. Knight led all players with 15 first half points. However, the Tribe also committed eight turnovers in the first half, while only forcing three, helping the Dragons chip away at the deficit.

The Dragons got back within six points on the first possession of the second half, but back-to-back baskets from Loewe and Audige reestablished the College’s double-digit lead, 42-31. However, with a 44-34 lead at the 16:52 mark, Knight was whistled for a blocking foul and hit his head on the floor, forcing him to exit the game. Knight was out for a couple minutes, but the Dragons were only able to cut the deficit by two points during this span and the Tribe led 46-38 at the under-16 media timeout. Audige was critical to preserving the College’s lead early in the second half, scoring nine points in the first seven minutes of the half. Though the Dragons never led, they were still hanging in the game with 10 minutes to go, trailing 54-43.

Since the Tribe was unable to extend its lead and put the game out of reach, the Dragons were able to capitalize on a scoring drought from the College and get within five points with eight minutes to go, 54-49, after a flagrant foul on Knight. Rowley was able to stop the run after the under-eight timeout with a pair of free throws. But, the Dragons refused to go away. Guard Coletrane Washington drilled a three to make the score 56-52. Once again, the Tribe had the answer, scoring eight straight courtesy of Knight and junior guard Matt Milon. This proved to be a critical stretch, as the Dragons never got closer than 10 points after the Tribe’s 8-0 spurt. The College ultimately claimed an 84-66 win to finish up its road trip.

The Dragons were led by Harper’s 17 points. In the victory, the Tribe was led by Knight’s double-double on 24 points and 12 rebounds. Milon had 19 points for the second-straight game. The College had eight players score, including four in double-figures, to help its offense get back on track and secure the victory.

After a relatively easy start to conference play, the Tribe took on Hofstra next. The Pride was undefeated in the CAA going into the matchup. Following that game, the College hosted CAA preseason favorite Northeastern.