PHILADELPHIA, November 30, 2011 – The Drexel Dragons and the Saint Joseph’s Hawks took the floor at the Hagan Arena. The game would feature a matchup of two of the best front courts in the city. The team that would come out on top would be the team whose big men would play better on offense and especially on defense. Saint Joseph’s would be that team. The Hawks set a school record with 16 blocked shots, and held Drexel to 31.3% shooting to earn a 62 – 49 victory.
Sophomore Forward C.J. Aiken tied his career-high with 9 blocked shots and added 13 points in leading the Hawks to the win. His 13 points featured 4 dunks. Sophomore Forward Halil Kanacevic added 2 blocks. Saint Joseph’s had 8 dunks in the game as Sophomore Forward Ronald Roberts had 3 and Sophomore Guard Langston Galloway added 1. Most of the dunk shots came off lob passes from the Guards. Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli felt that plays of this nature give the team more than just a basket.
“Defensively we were sound and when you have that presence in the lane, 16 blocked shots is extraordinary,” said Martelli. “You see the looks on the other team’s faces that it is really a challenge. Offensively we not razor-sharp except when we were in motion and throwing the ball over the top. Those dunks, people can say it’s only two points. It’s more than two points when you can make some spectacular offensive plays as these guys did. ”
That presence in the lane was supplied by Aiken. The 6′ 9″ Forward has shown considerable improvement this season. Martelli feels the reason for his growth as a player is that Aiken can now play the type of game he is comfortable playing. That is blocking shots, above the rim, and taking threes. And C.J. is enjoying his Saint Joseph’s experience.
“I’m playing with good guys this year,” said Aiken. “I’m comfortable with my teammates.”
Drexel is a team that needs to go inside with the big players underneath. If the Dragons could not get that close in shot to go down, they had a problem in that they did not have the outside game to complement the inside game. Saint Joseph’s s able to neutralize Drexel. The Dragons made 20 of 64 field goal attempts, and were 8 – 19 from beyond the arc. Saint Joseph’s had a 38 – 22 Points in the Paint advantage on Drexel. The Guards contributed causing turnovers as Saint Joseph’s registered 11 steals that led to a 19 – 6 edge in Points Off Turnovers. Drexel had a 40 – 37 edge in rebounds. 18 rebounds came on the offensive glass, but Drexel could not capitalize as they had only 12 Second Chance Points compared to 7 for Saint Joseph’s.
“We shot 31%, that was the difference,” said Drexel Coach Bruiser Flint. “You’ve got to finish plays. That’s what kills you. You can’t shoot 31% and win the game. If you get 18 offensive rebounds that means you’re close to the basket, but 31%. You can;t shoot like that and expect to beat a decent team. We murdered ourselves. If we stop doing that, we’ll be fine.”
Saint Joseph’s had four double figure scorers. In addition to Aiken, Kanacevic added 12 points and 8 rebounds, while Galloway and Junior Guard Carl Jones had 11. Galloway also contributed 6 rebounds and 3 assists. Roberts gave the team 8 points and 5 rebounds. For Drexel Freshman Guard Damion Lee had a game-high 14 points as he converted 4 of 7 from beyond the arc, and he grabbed 6 rebounds. Sophomore Forward Dartaye Ruffin and Senior Forward Sammie Givens each had 8 rebounds. Sophomore Guard Frantz Massenat dished out a game-high 6 assists. Junior Guard Chris Fouch played in his first game this season playing 15 minutes. He made 2 of 10 shots for 5 points.
Coming into the game the Hawks knew this would be a physical battle. The game would be an indicator of how strong the team has become. The Hawks have grown, gotten stronger, and can play this type of game.
“I was anxious to see the matchup,” Martelli said. “I wanted to see how they would progress. Last week we got it handed to us. This was a good match and certainly our length was different than just Drexel’s bulk.”
The city will start to take notice.
Written By: Glenn Papazian