Photos: Zack Beavers
By: Nick Borowski, Drexel Reporter
PHILADELPHIA – The Drexel Dragons (11-8) welcomed in the Hampton Pirates (3-16) last night in a game that saw the Dragons escape with a narrow 79-73 victory.
Drexel junior guard Lamar Oden Jr. led the Dragons with 19 points and freshman guard Justin Moore had a fantastic night with 14 points and 7 assists.
Drexel opened the game with great ball movement and got a wide-open three from Moore. Amari Williams continued his defensive excellence with a great stop and allowed the Dragons to go on a fast break opening up an 8-0 lead. Hampton Forward Kyrese Mullen opened their scoring with a midrange jump shot but Oden Jr responded with a three of his own. Drexel took an 11-4 lead into the under-16-minute media timeout.
Hampton came out firing after the timeout with guard Deuce Dean securing a turnover and pushing the break to convert an and-1. Drexel has been running a lot of their offense through Amari Williams on the free throw line finding open shooters. They continued that trend when Williams found an open Oden Jr. to slow the Pirates’ comeback efforts.
Hampton guard Marquis Godwin responded swiftly with a deep 2-point shot and a corner 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 16-14. Drexel big Garfield Turner responded with a tough layup of his own before Hampton leading scorer Jordan Nesbitt hit a tough layup through contact to send it to the under-12 media timeout.
Oden Jr.’s activity on the defensive end can not be understated. Drexel head coach Zach Spiker spoke on the junior guard’s intensity.
“Nesbitt was cooking early… I thought (Oden Jr.) did a really good job on him in the second half. I thought the quality of his shots off the bounce were much more difficult off the bounce in the second half,” said Spiker.
Oden Jr. secured a steal and opened the break for Moore to finish on the other end. Moore continued his hot shooting night with another three to open the score to 25-17. But as Hampton had done all half, they responded. Raymond Bethea Jr. hit a corner three and on the next possession completed a 3-point play. Drexel sharpshooter Mate Okros joined the 3-point party with one of his own before sending the game into the under-8 media timeout.
Coming out of the halftime break, Hampton guard Jordan Nesbitt hit two threes, but in between those possessions was a nice Coletrane Washington isolation and finish going at the rim. The teams went into the half with Drexel leading 37-33.
In the early stages of the second half, the Justin Moore to Lamar Oden Jr. connection was clicking. Moore found Oden Jr. on two straight 3-point shots to balloon the lead to 43-35. Williams continued to work in the foul line extended and found guard Washington who finished a slick reverse layup to get the score to 47-37.
When the teams returned to action, Dean began to catch fire for the Pirates. He hit a 3-point shot and made and quickly completed a 3-point possession. He then found Daniel Banister for an open layup to get the deficit back down to six at 51-45. Drexel guard Jamie Bergens found sharpshooter Mate Okros again to bring the lead back to seven at 54-47.
Play resumed and Amari Williams continued his dominance. Working in the post, he finished over the defenders.
Drexel University freshman point guard Justin Moore #11, scored 14 points and a career-high 7 assists in win vs. Hampton - PSD Photo by Zack Beavers
On the other end, Coletrane Washington fouled Marquis Godwin on a three and he sank all three shots. On the other end, Amari Williams blew through the Hampton defense and dunked it. The teams traded baskets back and forth before Marquis Godwin hit a deep two to cut the Drexel lead to 60-55.
Moore kept looking for his shot when he hit another midrange, but Hofstra strung together a 7-2 run, cutting the deficit to 64-61. Luke House did not let it get too close before hitting a 3-pointer of his own. Moore then found Williams in the pick-and-roll. Drexel led 69-61 with 2:56 remaining.
Dean put together three points, but again, House responded with a strong take to the rim, creating an and-1 and flexing after hearing the ref’s call. Godwin hit a deep three for Hampton to cut the Drexel lead to 72-66. The teams traded free throws before Dean hit another three to cut the lead to three points. When trying to break the press, Moore was tackled and the teams came together. A double technical was assessed. Moore split the free throws and essentially ended the game.
Coach Spiker opened his postgame availability by paying tribute to former Daskalakis Athletic Center security guard Lamont Butts, who recently lost his life.
“Man, we lost a family member this week… It would be inappropriate given the impact that he has had for nearly 20 years… but that was the first thing we talked about today. Not basketball, but life… Our hearts as a basketball team, basketball program, and athletic department go out to his family, to his children,” said Spiker.
Drexel will look to win three straight against Delaware on Saturday, January 21 at 2:00 p.m. while Hampton will play Monmouth at 2:30 p.m.