Drexel lost three starters from the team that beat Villanova, Saint Joseph's, Temple, Syracuse and Creighton last season. The Dragons figured to take a step back. They have not, proving that Bruiser Flint has now established a very compelling program.
Saturday afternoon, the Dragons (5-1) held off a late Loyola rally at the Palestra to win the Liberty bracket of the Philly Hoop Group Classic, 54-52.
These Dragons are doing it like their immediate predecessors - with defense. They beat Robert Morris, 56-40, on Friday. Morris and Loyola combined to shoot 33-for-110 (30 percent). No opponent has shot 40 percent against Drexel.
Drexel's only loss is at Virginia (5-1), which lost its first game of the season Saturday night at the Palestra to unbeaten Seton Hall, 74-60. The Pirates (5-0) won the Independence bracket of the Classic.
Drexel won its game with an 18-0 run early in the second half. Frank Elegar had 21 points against Loyola (4-3), after getting 10 rebounds and six blocks against Robert Morris.
Life starts getting very serious for the Dragons on Thursday when they play at preseason Colonial Athletic Association favorite George Mason (5-1).
Owls finish strong
Second halves were not kind to Temple in Puerto Rico. It worked out much better at Bowling Green. The Owls (2-3) were in a dead heat at the half, but outscored the Falcons, 41-24, in the second and won, 72-55. The Owls shot 68 percent in the final 20 minutes and held Bowling Green (3-2) to 35.9 percent shooting for the game.
Temple won the way it is going to win this season. Dionte Christmas (20) and Mark Tyndale (19) combined for 39 points. Freshman big man Lavoy Allen had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Penn beats Navy
In the Independence bracket consolation, Penn and Navy were playing to avoid becoming the only team to be 0-4 in the Classic. Penn (2-4) did the avoiding as it won, 71-67. Penn and Navy (2-5) were not terribly efficient in the first half, combining to shoot 17-for-58 and score just 49 points. In the second half, the Quakers shot 55 percent and scored 48 points.
Penn's Brian Grandieri, the lone remaining significant player from last season's Ivy League champs, had 18 points and nine rebounds.
La Salle survives
La Salle appeared to have its game against St. Francis (Pa.) under control at Gola Arena. The Explorers (2-2) led 50-42 with 7 1/2 minutes left. Four minutes later, they trailed 53-50. What would have been a really bad loss to a winless team turned into a 65-59 win.
St. Francis (0-5) probably is not going deep into the NCAA Tournament.
Or the Northeast Conference Tournament. But a win is a win. And La Salle, which got 18 points from Darnell Harris, will take it. *