Drexel Battles, but Falls to UNCW 69 – 63

James Butler Joins the 1,000 Points and 1,000 Rebounds Club, the 23rd Player in Division 1 Basketball

PHILADELPHIA, PA. 2/24/2022 –

The Dragons hosted the co-leader of the CAA, the UNCW Seahawks. It was a tussle, but the little things went against Drexel who drops a 69 – 63 decision at the DAC. The Dragons had an opportunity to defeat the top team in the league, but it became a tough loss. For Drexel Coach Zach Spiker, the loss is what mattered more than to what team.

Amari Williams Sets a Career-High in Rebounds

Sophomore forward Amari Williams posted a career-high 19 rebounds and scored 20 points, one shy of his career-high to lead the Dragons. His rebounds were almost evenly distributed between offensive and defensive boards, 9 on offense and 10 on defense. The previous high for Williams was 13 against JMU. Williams made 7 of 11 field goal attempts and was 5 of 7 from the free throw line. He is showing the ability to contribute at both ends of the floor.

“Amari Williams has a lot of basketball left here for us,” said Spiker. “His arc continues to trend in the right direction to be a very good basketball player, a dominant player in our league.”

The Tide Turns Towards the Seahawks

Both teams played eye-to-eye for most of the game, even at halftime. Drexel held a lead at 59 – 57 with 2:33 to play on a Williams offensive rebound and second chance layup. Then Dragons went cold from the floor making just 2 of their last 9 shots, got a layup blocked, and missed a front end of a one-and-one.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks tilted the game in their direction. UNCW guard Mike Okauru drilled a three-pointer with just under two minutes on the clock to put his ahead. Roughly a minute later Jaylen Fornes sank a three off a turnover putting UNCW in control of the game at 63 – 59. The Dragons got 2 free throws from Williams, and a late layup by Camryn Wynter, but the Seahawks kept separation at the free throw line.

“Okauru hits a big one, then Fornes in the corner, critical three’s,” Spiker observed.

Turnovers and Offensive Rebounds

Chances for victory were there, but the turnover count hurt Drexel as 12 of their miscues led to 17 points for UNCW. The Dragons did not capitalize when the Seahawks turned the ball over 5 times resulting in just 5 points. Each team battled off the offensive glass. Drexel had an advantage getting 20 and 23 second chance points. But the 14 by UNCW was a factor as well.

“Turnovers, way too high,” Spiker lamented. “If you look at the offensive rebounds, fourteen for them. Turnovers twelve for us. You can look at everything else, but I think it starts and ends there. In some of those fourteen offensive rebounds, there are fifty-fifty plays they make.”

Drexel won the rebounding 48 – 34.

Scoring Recap

Wynter scored 14 points and handed out 4 assists, while Xavier Bell added 12 points for the Dragons.

UNCW (20 – 8, 14 – 3) had four players score in double figures with Jaylen Sims getting 17 points. Trazarien White recorded a double-double getting 14 points and 11 rebounds. Okauru added 14 points. James Baker contributed 10 points. UNCW is a good three-point shooting team, but got only 7 of 17 in the contest.

James Butler Joins An Elite Group in Drexel History

At the 5:38 mark of the second half graduate forward James Butler pulled down his 9th rebound of the game. With that carom he became the 4th player in Drexel program history to have 1,000 career-points and 1,000 career-rebounds.

The other Dragons in this elite group are Malik Rose, Bob Stephens, and Samme Givens. Butler is the 23rd player in Division 1 history to reach such a level. He now has 1,211 points and 1,001 rebounds. Butler has missed games due to injury this season which has diminished his playing time. A newer roll, but he remains valuable to the program.

“I’m proud of the person he is and how he has handled everything,” Spiker said of Butler. “He got that one thousandth rebound tonight. There were times a couple of weeks ago he got zero rebounds in a game. It speaks to his character that he put his head down and gave us great stuff. It was Malik Rose, Bob Stephens, Samme Givens, and now James Butler. That’s a pretty rare category. When you’re mentioned in a category with Malik Rose in terms of your career and what you have accomplished, that is pretty special. What’s great about JB is he earned every one of those things. Earned all of them. I couldn’t be happier for him.”

Upcoming for Drexel

The Dragons (14 – 13, 9 – 8) play the last regular season game at home on Saturday against Charleston. Afterwards, the CAA Tournament begins. Drexel looks to capture the magic of last year when they won the title.

“I stood in the locker room in front of a group of young men that can win a championship in ten days, and I believe in them,” Spiker said. “The margin is thin like it is everywhere in college basketball. We’ve got to understand that and control things we can control.”


Written By: Glenn Papazian

Contact: Glenn@PhillyCollegeSports.com

Amari Williams (in white) Fighting for a Rebound

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