PHILADELPHIA, December 28, 2011 – Drexel University staged a basketball double-header with the women’s team meeting the University of South Carolina Gamecocks and the men matching up against the Fairfield Stags. The end result was a split as the men’s team won their nightcap game, but the women rallied but came up short in the opener.
Women’s Basketball – South Carolina 62 Drexel 58
The Drexel Dragons women’s team was looking for a bounce back win after losing to the University of Pennsylvania in overtime in their last outing. The opponent was a tough team led by Philadelphia native and former Temple coach Dawn Staley. South Carolina is one of the best defensive teams ranking second in the nation. They give up an average of 48 points per game. Drexel scored 58, but came up short in a game needed to restore some confidence for the team. The jury is still out on the according to Coach Denise Dillon.
I don’t know,” said Dillon. “We did play them tough, no doubt. I am not going to take away anything from our girls. At the same time our team has to recognize that at the beginning of the year you see games that will be tough and you need to match up with team, and other games you might win if everything goes your way. And there are games you try to steal. This was a game that you need to do all the little things correctly to win. We did not match up with them. The girls came in focused. If they come in that way against teams we have a chance of beating, we’ll be okay. If they have the mentality that we’ve had early this year it will be a long season.”
Drexel played even with South Carolina in the first half trailing 27 – 26. South Carolina came out strong in the second half opening up a 53 – 36 lead with 9:59 to play. The lead was the result of Drexel committing 6 turnovers in that span resulting in 10 South Carolina points. Drexel had 6 first half turnovers, then just 2 more after that stretch for the remainder of the game totalling 14. South Carolina had a 20 – 14 edge in Points off Turnovers. South Carolina had 10 steals. The turnovers proved to be the difference.
“I attribute that to a lack of focus,” Dillon said. “They’re (South Carolina) a great defensive team, but some of them were unforced turnovers being lazy with our passes and ball fakes. They scored 20 points off our turnovers. Them just turning it up a little bit and us being a little complacent, that can happen.”
The Dragons would stage a furious comeback. A 17 – 4 run featured by back to back three-pointers by Senior forward Kamile Nacickaite got the team to within 55 – 53 with 4:14 remaining. However, trailing by 4 Senior forward Tyler Hale had a layup attempt rim-out. South Carolina got a three from guard Markeshia Grant to regain control of the game. The comeback was a result of Drexel just playing their game.
“It was sticking to the game plan, recognizing what we had to do, being strong with the ball, and everyone being ready and being involved in the play,” said Dillon. “It’s tough to guard us if all five players are involved.”
Nacickaite, Hale, along with Junior guard Hollie Mershon scored 14 points for Drexel. Mershon contributed a game-high 8 rebounds. Nacickaite and Mershon had 7 assists, but also had 7 turnovers. Guard Ieasia Walker scored a game-high 18 points for South Carolina. IN addition Walker had 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 4 steals and no turnovers. Grant scored 17 points, and guard La’Keisha Sutton contributed 10.
Drexel has a 5 – 5 record. The schedule gets no easier as Princeton will visit on December 31.
Men’s Basketball – Drexel 77 Fairfield 69
The Drexel Men’s team got a career-high 31 points and 9 rebounds from Senior forward Sammie Givins to earn a 77 – 69 win over the Fairfield Stags. With the victory Drexel is on a five game winning streak.
“I made my first couple (shots) and, obviously, you feel good about that, then everything started falling down,” said Givins. “I kept attacking and my teammates let me know to keep going, keep moving. It was a good night.”
“We kept giving him the ball and he kept scoring,” said Drexel Coach Bruiser Flint.
“He does a good job of getting in position and he has a nice touch. Now he’s making foul shots. and now that he’s making foul shots guys have to play him straight up.”
Givins was 13 of 16 from the field, and made 5 of his 6 free throws. He added 3 assists and made 2 steals. His presence in the lane helped Drexel to have a 46 – 28 advantage in points in the paint.
Drexel took command early in the game as the Dragons went on an 18 – 0 in the first half. Trailing 12 – 9 Drexel would keep Fairfield off the scoreboard for the next 8 minutes. Fairfield would not get a field goal for almost 10 minutes. The Stags tried to claw their way back into the game trailing 38 – 33 at halftime.
“The game changed significantly with that,” said Fairfield Coach and former Princeton Coach Sydney Johnson.
In the second half the Dragons led 52 – 47 when Givins scored 7 consecutive points. Sophomore guard Frantz Massenat hit a 3, then Sophomore forward Dartaye Ruffin made two free throws to give the Dragons a 64 – 51 lead with 5:39 remaining to play, and control of the game. Fairfield did close to within 4 points late, but Drexel made the key free throws to preserve the win.
Massenat was the other double-figures scorer for Drexel as he scored 11 points, and dished out 5 assists. Drexel shot 53.2 % (25-47). During their win streak this was the third time that the Dragons shot over 50%.
Fairfield had 4 players score in double-figures led by guard Derek Needham with 18 as he connected on 4 three-pointers. Center Ryan Olander scored 15 points and pulled down 7 rebounds. Forward Rakim Sanders put in 17 points, and fellow forward Maurice Barrow had 10 points and 6 assists.
Drexel improves to 7 – 4 this season, and the Dragons await Saint Francis on December 31. Fairfield has a 7 – 6 record.
Written By: Glenn Papazian