Everything is starting to come together for Drexel’s Austin Williams, who iced a narrow 68-67 victory over Lafayette on Wednesday evening by spiking a dunk off of an offensive rebound with 13 seconds left, then rejecting a shot from Leopards guard Justin Jaworski with six ticks remaining.
Lafayette got two more shots to secure the win, but Jaworski fanned on a three and Eric Stafford couldn’t convert after corralling the offensive rebound, and the Dragons snuck out of Daskalakis Athletic Center victorious.
When asked what it means to take on a bigger role for the Dragons, Williams said: “It’s exciting. I embrace it. Just trying to bring leadership. That ain’t me, but I’m embracing it.”
Williams was the answer early on as the Leopards rolled out a zone defense that momentarily stymied the Dragons, but Williams was able to steady them, constantly making plays for himself and others en-route to a near double-double in the first half (10 points, 8 rebounds).
After shooting a woeful 30% from the field, including 1-12 from three, in the first half, Drexel came out gunning in the second frame.
They were able to up the quality of their looks, bend that stingy Lafayette zone defense, and connect on their cleaner triples.
Tramaine Isabell who’s 13 of a team-high 19 points came in the second half, served as the main offensive catalyst for the Dragons, who trailed by eight with less than four minutes to go.
Four turnovers from Lafayette in the final few minutes of the game allowed Drexel to scrap their way back into things, where they eventually found themselves with the ball and down one with 31 seconds left.
After a missed three from Isabell, Sammy Mojica swooped in for an offensive rebound and pitched it back out to Isabell, who slang a dart to an uncovered Williams resting on the baseline for an easy dunk.
When asked about the eventual game-winning assist to Williams, Isabell said: “Once Sammy got the offensive rebound, everyone was kind of scrambling. I saw the other team trying to find their man and I saw the open man in the lane.”
When asked about Williams’ two big plays down the stretch, Dragons coach Zach Spiker gushed about his big man and his work ethic.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Austin Williams and the progress he’s made. It has nothing to do with our coaching staff and everything to do with his work ethic. He put the work in during the summertime and now you’re seeing the fruits of his labors.”
Drexel will look to use the momentum of their last victory to power them to a win over Rider University (5-2) on Saturday afternoon. Rider is coming off of an 84-88 loss to Providence.