Dragons Defense Keys a 77 – 49 Victory Over the Phoenix
PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/20/2022 –
In the previous game between the two teams the game was for the CAA Championship last season. This game did not have the same impact. These are new teams establishing what they can accomplish in this season. Drexel used their defense to defeat the Phoenix of Elon 77 – 49 at the DAC. In their three previous games the margin of victory was an average of five points. Not so this time, and the Dragons are finding their stride. And the will to play defense mattered.
“This goes through the filter of I don’t know if we can show you everything they run,” Drexel Coach Zach Spiker said. “We just have to play hard, and pressure the ball. At the end of the day there is no substitute for energy and effort. Defensively, for the most part, we had that.”
Defense can create a flow on offense. Drexel forced 19 turnovers and earned a 31 – 2 advantage in points off turnovers. Steals created the run-outs and easy baskets. The Dragons stole the ball 11 times, the highest number this season. Forward Amari Williams had 4 swipes, his career-high to go along with a collegiate best 17 points. The Phoenix shot the ball well in the first half, but in the second twenty minutes were limited to 25% (6 of 24) from the floor and 3 of 13 from distance. The Dragons countered making 28 of 53 field goal attempts, 12 of 20 from distance.
The game was a close contest in the first half. With 3:14 to play in the opening twenty minutes Drexel got breathing room on two free throws by Melik Martin, who scored 15 points, followed by a transition three-pointer by Lamar Oden, Jr. Elon scored the last five points of the half to cut the lead to 10 points.
In the second half the Dragons put it away. Martin got it started with a three-pointer. Leading 43 – 32 Drexel clamped down on the Elon offense stopping them 10 times on eleven possessions. In that stretch the Dragons went on a 14 – 2 run to lead 57 – 34 with just over ten minutes to play to establish control. Coming out strong in the latter twenty keyed the victory.
“I think it is important that we do that every game, and try not to come out sluggish,” said Williams. “Coming out strong, that sets the tone for the rest of the game.”
Guard Camryn Wynter also posted 17 points for Drexel. Martin scored 15 points and took down 6 rebounds. Coltrane Washington broke double-digits getting 10 points.
Michael Graham had a big game for Elon scoring 14 points and grabbed a game-high 17 boards, 8 off the offensive glass. Hunter Woods led the team with 16 points.
The Drexel record is above .500 at 8 – 7, they also improve their CAA record to 3 – 2. The next game is Saturday at home against the William & Mary. It’s not about the record for this team, it is about the quality of play and what they want to build.
“We’ve broken games into four minute segments in the last three games,” said Spiker. “We had a group of guys on the road who showed incredible toughness at Northeastern, almost found a way to get one at Hofstra, and here we protected home court. We have higher aspirations than what our win-loss record is.”
“I think we are trending in the right direction.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian