The Drexel Dragons (28-6), in their first game since losing the CAA final to VCU, dominated the Central Florida Knights, 81-56.
Drexel used their snub from the NCAA tournament as motivation for their empathic victory today. As coach Bruiser Flint said earlier this week about his team in the NIT, “Try to go out and win the NIT. Prove them wrong.”
If Drexel plays like this then they will continue to win games easily. Forward Chris Fouch lead the team with 19 points, and Frantz Massenat also dropped 18 points with a staggering 14 assists. The unsung hero of the game may have been Dartaye Ruffin, who played in place of Samme Givens who was in foul trouble throughout and grabbed 8 boards along with 9 points.
Drexel led by an impressive 13 points at halftime, and eventually stretched the lead to 28 at its greatest margin. The would end up winning by 25.
Drexel shared the ball well today, dishing out 25 assists, compared to UCF’s meager 7. However, the key to the game for Drexel’s victory was once again their stifling defense. They held UCF to 21/55 (38.2%) from the field while they went 28/55 (50.9%). Another key factor was the fact that while Drexel had 4 players scoring double-figure points, the Knights only had one. This balance allowed Drexel to spread the floor.
The stat of the night has to be Chris Fouch’s ridiculous day from the beyond the arch. Chris made 5 three-pointers, but UCF as a team only made 4. Fouch has come on strong as of late, scoring at least 14 points in each of his last five games.
A troubling statistic, however, is the fact that Samme Givens only played eight minutes and still collected four fouls. That is play that cannot stand as Samme Givens is a major part of Drexel’s defensive powerhouse. If he does this against a better team, they will be able to exploit this weakness and torch them down low.
Drexel’s next opponent will be Northern Iowa, which stunned Philly’s own St. Joe’s Hawks, 67-65. Their key player is Seth Tuttle, who had 23 points and 11 boards in round one against SJU, so they’ll need Givens to be a presence in the paint. A key point that Drexel should take to mind is that Northern Iowa shot 3/20 (15%) from beyond the arc in their win over Saint Joseph’s. That 3-point stat should help Drexel as they are good at forcing teams into taking bad three point shots. Northern Iowa also has a nice resume of wins, as they crushed ODU this year and had an upset over then-#12 Creighton, so Drexel needs to stay focused as they advance to round two of the NIT.