“Hungry dogs run faster,” is the message Drexel guard Troy Harper scribed on Dragons’ whiteboard in the locker room prior to their game against the Delaware Blue Hens, and that very memo is all he could focus on during halftime as his team trailed 56-29.
Drexel (12-18, 6-11 CAA), who once trailed by as many as 34 points, stunned Delaware (12-18, 5-12 CAA) as they mounted the largest comeback in NCAA history defeating the Blue Hens 85-83 thanks to a second-half surge led by Tramaine Isabell, Sammy Mojica, and Harper.
Isabell, who scored 22 of his 29 points in the second frame and accounted for 46 of the Dragons’ points over the final 22:30 of the game, was one assist shy of a triple-double, as he finished with 12 rebounds and nine assists to go with his game-high in points.
After a post-up by Ryan Daly tied things up at 83 apiece with 10 seconds left, Isabell was fouled on a three-pointer with two seconds remaining, connecting on two of three free-throws to give Drexel an 85-83 lead. A desperation three-point heave by Eric Carter was no good, and the Dragons roared in unison with the animated crowd.
Isabell was determined to defend his home court and make those that he saw leaving early due to the beating the Dragons took in the first half rue their decision to dip out.
“To see this outcome is amazing.”- Tramaine Isabell. pic.twitter.com/ORa1bxPH6r
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) February 23, 2018
Drexel’s guards, Isabell, Mojica, Harper (14 points) and Kurk Lee (12 points, seven rebounds) bent the game in Drexel’s favor by harassing Delaware’s ball-handlers with an overwhelming amount of pressure using the full-court press, coercing the Blue Hens into a number of turnovers that turned into easy buckets for the Dragons.
Delaware doubled their turnovers from the first half (four) to the second (eight), and Drexel was able to score 15 points off of those miscues.
Drexel’s defense also proved to be a lot more formidable in the second half, offering up a resistance that was truant in the first twenty minutes of basketball. Drexel’s guards drew charges, dove for loose balls and deflected errant passes, making disruption the name of their defensive game in the second half.
In the first half, Delaware swung the ball around unimpeded, racking up 16 assists on 21 made baskets en-route to shooting 61.8% from the field and 62.5% from downtown.
The second half was played to a much different tone, with the Blue Hens only dishing out five assists as a team and shooting a ghastly 37.9% from the floor. They were stripped of their comfort and forced to play a pace that was a lot more frenetic than the plodded one that overtook the first half.
“It defintely was a tale of two halves tonight,” said Delaware guard Anthon Mosely. “You saw in the first half how we can share the ball and score and pretty much do what we want to do when we play together. But we’ve got to do a better job of sticking together when things go south.”
Mojica, who finished with 16 points and four rebounds, was the unsung hero for Drexel in the victory, as he led the first half scoring brigade and kept the Dragons within an earshot of Delaware.
Miles Overton’s perimeter shooting also proved to be important for the Dragons, as he connected on two triples in the second half to slice even further into that mammoth Blue Hens lead.
Drexel big man Austin Williams was relegated to the bench for most of this one due to foul trouble, but he made big plays in the second half during his stints on the floor to help further tilt things in the Dragons’ favor.
Williams tipped in his own miss with 1:13 left to give Drexel a two-point lead before the controversial foul on Isabell, and Williams was a much more impactful defensive presence in the second half, altering shots and even tallying two blocks.
Drexel now turns their focus to UNC Wilmington, who they will take on in their regular season finale on Saturday afternoon in the Daskalakis Athletic Center at 4:00 PM.
Delaware wraps up their regular season campaign on Saturday with a home game at the Bob Carpenter Center with a matchup against James Madison University at 4:00 PM.