PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/7/2017 – After exploring the British Isles where the La Salle Explorers had a trip to Northern Ireland the team returned to more familiar surroundings meeting a fellow Philadelphia team in the Drexel Dragons at the Gola Arena. Drexel never trailed in the game, and held off a late La Salle rally to take a 72 – 70 win back home to West Philadelphia. The Dragon backcourt of Kurk Lee and Sammy Mojica combined for 39 points in the win playing the full forty minutes each. Lee scored a game and season-high 23 points, and tied a career-high with 8 rebounds. He set a season mark with 3 steals.
“You saw Kurk control the game,” said Drexel Coach Zach Spiker said. “We needed to shorten this game. In order to have success tonight, and by success we mean get a win, we need to shorten the game. He did a good job of managing the game.”
Drexel, injury depleted, played this game with seven players. Tramaine Isabell was a late scratch due to injury. Still, the team won their third in a row. They did not think about time on the court, they thought about playing.
“You don’t think about that,” Mojica said. “We have guys who are playing their hearts out. You don’t think about that at the time, you just pull it out and dig deep for each other. We talk about that all the time, playing for each other.”
Mojica scored 19 points and took down 6 rebounds.
Lee, a 5-9 sophomore guard. is from Baltimore, but he has learned that playing another city school is special and has meaning for Drexel.
“This is a great opportunity for us to play a Big Five team,” said Lee. “We are grateful to play that team. We think we can compete with those teams and would like to get more games against city schools.”
Drexel had to withstand a La Salle rally at the end. The Dragons held a 65 – 53 lead at the 8:33 mark on a layup by forward Austin Williams, who scored 16 points. The Explorers began their rally. Later in the half forward Isiah Deas scored three straight field goals, two three-pointers to cut the deficit to 67 – 65 at the 3:52 mark.
“When adversity comes we come together,” Lee said.
A layup by Lee made it 70 – 65. With 1:40 to play Williams hit a jumper for what turned out to be the winning points. La Salle had a last chance at the buzzer, but a Deas three was off the mark. The Explorers left the court with a loss much to the surprise of Coach Giannini.
“There was nothing in this game that I was not surprised by,” Giannini said. “It was a disappointing loss for us and a great win for Drexel.”
Forward B.J. Johnson led La Salle with 21 points and 11 rebounds, his fifth double-double of the season. Guard Pookie Powell added 16 points and Deas counted 14.
Drexel (5 – 4) goes to Robert Morris on Sunday before playing another Philly team on Tuesday on North Broad Street against Temple.
La Salle (5 – 5) prepares for a Big Five game at the Wells Fargo Center meeting #4 Villanova.
Written By: Glenn Papazian