December 12, 2020 –
The city men’s basketball teams finally got a chance to play one another when the La Salle Explorers travelled down Broad Street, west on Market Street to the DAC to face the Drexel Dragons. Basketball is a numbers game. It can be a matter of keeping the other team off the scoreboard for stretches of time. And that is what La Salle did in holding off a Drexel rally to earn a 58 – 48 win.
“We talk about setting the tone defensively and our guys did that at the start,” said La Salle Coach Ashley Howard. “We had a lull at a certain time in the second half, but we got back to guarding and were able to pull it out against a tough Drexel team.”
The Explorers limited the Dragons to 33.8% shooting, 18 of 54 from the floor. From the three-point line Drexel converted only 3 of 20 (15%) from beyond the arc. Offensively, La Salle was paced by freshman Anwar Gill scored a career-high 15 points making half of his 12 shots, and added a collegiate-best 8 rebounds.
The defense was in full view in the first half. Drexel got a layup from forward James Butler at the 15:53 mark. The next Dragons field goal came 11:20 later when Butler converted a another layup. During that span La Salle went on a 22 – 8 run to lead 22 – 12. The lead in that stretch grew to as many as 18 points.
Despite making just 1 of 9 three-pointers in that opening twenty minutes, the Dragons began a comeback getting to within 32 – 23 at intermission.
“Their defensive pressure didn’t allow us to execute as well as we normally do,” said Drexel Coach Zach Spiker. “We defended a little better as the half went on. We challenged our guys to finish the half strong. We outscored them by 6 or 7 points and put us in a position for some success.”
In the second half that charge continued as twice Drexel got to within one point. The last was at just over 10 minutes to play when Tim Perry, Jr. cut the deficit to 42 – 41, La Salle responded getting back-to-back three point baskets by another freshman Jhamir Brickus stretching the advantage to 48 – 41 at the 7:39 mark. The Dragons pulled to within a possession at 50 – 47 with 5:26 on the clock on a basket by Camren Wynter, who lead Drexel with 15 points. That would be the last Dragons field goal. The Explorers closed the game scoring 8 of the last 9 points.
“They were able to some really good basketball in the second half,” Howard said. “There was a stretch in the second half when we had to adjust and made those adjustments. Brickus made some big shots, and we were able to close it out on the defensive end.”
David Beatty contributed 11 points and Jack Clark pulled down his Explorers career-high getting 13 rebounds.
Zach Walton scored in double-figures for Drexel getting 10 points. Butler grabbed 9 boards.
The game came down to La Salle defense and Drexel shooting woes especially from the three-point line.
“To be 3 for 20 and be in a 50 – 47 one possession game against an Atlantic 10 school, I felt like we had a chance to go on a run and end the game and play more efficiently,” Spiker said. “We weren’t able to do it.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian