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Drexel’s Comeback Falls Short, Loses CAA Final

The Drexel Dragons’ outstanding 19 game win streak came to a heartbreaking end at the hands of last year’s NCAA tournament Cinderella VCU. VCU defeated Drexel 59-56, in a fantastic game between the titans of the CAA.

VCU dominated the first half, outscoring Drexel 35-19, taking a sizable lead into their locker rooms. The game was tight early, with Drexel down only 1 (10-9) 9 minutes into the contest. However, three straight Darius Theus lay-ups pushed the Rams’ lead to 7 and started a run that would end with them up 16 at the half. Theus finished with 16 to lead VCU.

Theus' (above) run of layups really hurt the Dragons, but an 0-3 shooting night from Samme Givens didn't help.

Drexel came back on fire after halftime, slowly clawing away at VCU’s lead. With 3 minutes left, VCU held an 8-point lead, and then Drexel finally made their move to regain the edge.

The Dragons cut it to a three-point lead with 1:14 left in the game. Unfortunately, down 55-51 and with only 21 seconds left, Damion Lee missed a layup, and after a scrum at the net, Traveon Graham of VCU ended up with the ball. Graham had a nice game, scoring 13 while adding 2 steals and 3 rebounds.

This seemed to be game, but VCU foolishly tossed it down the court to a covered player, and the pass was picked off by guard Frantz Massenat. Frantz was fouled and sent to the line. He made both, and VCU took the ball back and made two free throws in response, to stretch the lead back to 57-53. Breakout player Chris Fouch made a huge three to cut the lead to 1 with only 16 seconds remaining, and it seemed like Drexel could pull off one of the greatest last-second comebacks in Championship Week history.

VCU went down the court, got fouled, and made two free throws to make 59-56. Drexel tried to set up a play, with Frantz Massenat attempting a three, but it clanged off the rim, and a VCU player rebounded the ball. He may have stepped out of bound, before time expired, but there was no review and VCU won the game.

Drexel rallied from 16 down all the way back, but was never able to tie or take the lead; their poor start cost them dearly. In the second half they poured their hearts out, playing excellent defense and hitting several big shots (field goals and free throws). Even though they easily out-rebounded the Rams, 38-22, their -8 turnover margin was a killer.

Givens (45) fights for a ball against Bradford Burgess (20). It was loose balls like these that decided the game.

Damion Lee put on another stellar performance, scoring 15 of his game-high 20 points in the second half. He led the Drexel comeback by also grabbing 10 boards. He also played all 40 minutes, along with would have been hero Chris Fouch (15 points) and blossoming sophomore Frantz Massenat (14 points). However, the biggest offensive disappointment had to be final member of the Big Four, Samme Givens, who only scored a meager 3 points. Even though he did secure a game-high 15 rebounds, a better offensive performance would have been nice from the senior.

Looking forward for Drexel, they now are not guaranteed a spot in the Big Dance, and they will have to wait for Selection Sunday for their fate. Before tonight’s loss, they were in according to ESPN’s bracketologist Joe Lunardi, so let’s hope it stays that way.

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Categories: CBB, Drexel

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