Close games lead to stressful season for Drexel | City Six Report

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Zach Spiker’s Drexel team has had its share of close games this season.

Drexel

The tale of the Dragons’ regular season was close games. They went 6-5 in contests decided by one possession, three points or fewer. They also went 3-2 in games in which the final margin was four or five points.

The highs and lows of such stressful outcomes were on display last week. Drexel defeated Delaware, 85-83, on Thursday after recovering from a 34-point deficit, largest comeback by a winning team in NCAA history. Two days later, the Dragons lost by 83-82 to UNC-Wilmington.

“It’s just another week in our season,” Drexel coach Zack Spiker said. “We’ve had a number of games that have been one- and two-possession games that have come down to the wire. Some of those games we’ve executed, and in other games we haven’t.

“A lot of things that went right for us on Thursday didn’t go right for us in the final minute of [Saturday’s] game, and we came up on the short end.”

Drexel will play James Madison in Saturday’s opening round of the CAA tournament. The Dragons lost by two on the road to the Dukes, and won by two at home.

Coming up

Saturday vs. James Madison, 4 p.m. (CAA.TV)

Villanova

The temptation for some who follow the Wildcats is to just look ahead to the NCAA Tournament and not put too much effort into following the regular season. But that does not fit with coach Jay Wright’s approach to the long, four-month road that gets his team prepared for March.

“It’s definitely something we talk about a lot,” Wright said. “We don’t talk about winning championships, but we talk about the importance of the regular season. The NCAA Tournament is such a monumental event in our country. I just think it gets covered so well and it’s so big. It’s like the Super Bowl in football, that it just overshadows everything else. I don’t think it’s purposeful.

“We talk to our guys about the fact that the NCAA Tournament’s a tournament — you might only get to play one or two games. But 31 games of your college career each year are really, really important. You only get to play so many, so take advantage of each one of them. That’s how we try to address it.”

Coming up

Wednesday at Seton Hall, 8:30 p.m. (FoxSports1)

Saturday vs. Georgetown at WFC, 5 p.m. (Fox 29)

Penn

The Quakers hold a one-game lead over Harvard with two games to play in the race for the Ivy League regular-season title. For senior point guard Darnell Foreman, it has been quite a journey in his four seasons.

When Foreman was a freshman, Penn went 9-19 and fired coach Jerome Allen after the season. The Quakers improved slightly to 11-17 and 13-15 the next two years and now are 21-7, 11-1 in the Ivy League.

“We stuck to it, and didn’t let obstacles stop us for the most part and stayed with it, knowing if we keep working play hard and playing together, we could possible get to the point and win a championship,” Foreman said.

Foreman has increased his scoring each season and is averaging 9.7 points along with 3.4 assists. He has shown the ability to make clutch plays for a balanced Quakers team that has six players averaging 8 to 14.4 points.

Coming up

Friday at Yale, 7 p.m. (Ivy League Network)

Saturday at Brown, 6 p.m.  (Ivy League Network)

Temple

Sunday’s 75-56 win over Central Florida was the final regular-season home game at the Liacouras Center for 6-foot-10 senior forward Obi Enechionyia. It was a time of reflection for Enechionyia, who has totaled 1,245 points, 595 career rebounds, and 164 blocked shots and competed on an NIT semifinalist as a freshman and an NCAA Tournament team as a sophomore.

“There have been a lot of great memories, and it feels like it went by so quickly,” said Enechionyia, who is averaging 10.9 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.48 blocks shots this season. “I played a lot of good games in this arena, a lot of great wins and a lot of memories I won’t forget.”

The only way Temple could play another home game is if the Owls earn an NIT bid and host a game.

Coming up

Wednesday at Connecticut, 7 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Sunday at Tulsa, 3 p.m. (ESPN3).

La Salle

It was quite a week for senior forward B.J. Johnson, who pulled down 23 rebounds – one short of the Atlantic Ten record – against Rhode Island, then scored the 1,000th point of his two-season Explorers career at Fordham.

“I think everyone in this area has always known that B.J. is really talented,” Explorers coach John Giannini said. “Talented guys just need opportunity and they need a coach who has confidence in them, and B.J.’s really flourished here at La Salle and we’re lucky to have him. We thought he would flourish and we’re happy for him and we’re happy for ourselves.”

The more amazing feat had to be the rebounding, which Giannini called a “once-in-20-year-type thing.” At 6-foot-7 and 200 pounds, Johnson doesn’t fit the prototype of the bruising rebounder.

“He’s quick to the ball,” the coach said, “and of course he elevates really quickly, and he was playing his heart out.”

Coming up

Wednesday vs. Dayton, 7 p.m. (NBCSports Philadelphia)

Saturday at St. Joseph’s, 2 p.m. (Facebook)

St. Joseph’s

Close games have been a hallmark of the Hawks’ season, and the outcome usually hasn’t been a good one. Before last weekend, St. Joseph’s had lost six of seven games that came down to the last possession of regulation.

The Hawks succeeded, however, on Saturday when they won at Richmond, 72-70. Shavar Newkirk provided the deciding points on a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left. The Spiders had a last shot after a St. Joe’s turnover but missed it, and the Hawks won on the road in the A-10 for only the second time this season.

St. Joseph’s other win was home in overtime against VCU, which hit a three-pointer a split second after the second-half buzzer went off. Among their close losses, the Hawks were burned twice on buzzer-beating shots by George Mason.

Coming up

Saturday vs. La Salle, 2 p.m. (Facebook)