For the first time all season, Drexel had the top seven members of its rotation available in Friday’s game against the College of Charleston.
Still, it was sophomore guard Kurk Lee, one of just four Dragons to play in all 16 games, who played hero in the overtime win.
Lee led Drexel with 22 points and, having played 41 of a possible 45 minutes for Drexel, it felt appropriate that he was at the line for the Dragons with eight seconds left in overtime to ice the game.
The sophomore guard knocked down both free throws as the Dragons defeated the Cougars, 87-82, at the Daskalakis Athletic Center for their first Colonial Athletic Association win.
“He’s not really a sophomore,” Drexel coach Zach Spiker said. “When you look at minutes played and experience, he’s made a lot of shots, a lot of plays. We trust him.”
Drexel (7-9, 1-2 CAA) led the College of Charleston for all but 1 minute, 41 seconds of regulation. Senior forward Austin Williams gave the Dragons a 4-2 lead at the 18:33 mark in the first half, and the Dragons did not relent, holding onto the advantage deep into the second half.
However, with 33 seconds left, Cougars leading scorer Joe Chealey, who tied Lee with a game-high 22 points, banked in a jumper to put the College of Charleston up 73-71. Lee drove to the basket and finished a contested layup to tie the game, before Cougars junior forward Jarrell Brantley had his three-point shot rim out as time expired in regulation.
Drexel trailed once again when Brantley knocked down a three with 3:54 left in overtime, but a 6-0 run gave the Dragons an 81-76 advantage with 1:45 left. A layup by Brantley cut Drexel’s lead to one with 26 seconds left, but free throws by Lee eventually sealed the victory.
After an 0-2 start to conference play, the Dragons picked up a win against the conference’s preseason favorites.
“This was step in the right direction,” Spiker said.
Lee, freshamn forward Tadas Kararinas, senior guard Sammy Mojica and senior forward Austin Williams, who had 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, are the only four Dragons to appear in all 16 games.
Sophomore forward Alihan Demir missed the teams first five games. Senior guard Miles Overton and junior guard Troy Harper Jr. combined to miss 20 games with early season injuries. When they finally returned, junior guard Tramaine Isabell, the team’s leading scorer, went out with a groin injury.
All four were in the lineup together for the first time on Friday night. Demir scored 20 points and Harper and Isabell each added 14 a piece.
“I think I’m adjusting to the team more, and they’re adjusting to my game too,” Demir said. “I missed the first five games…but I think I’m getting more confident in the team and they’re getting more confident in me too.”
Drexel is still without sophomore forward Sam Green and senior forward Tyshawn Myles, who Spiker said was playing the best basketball of his career before missing the team’s last three games.
After scuffling a bit in the non-conference and to start CAA play, the Dragons hope having more of their top guys healthy will allow them build some momentum.
“It’s something that we need, consistency,” Williams said. “That’s why we’ve had the ups and downs. Big wins and losing to teams we shouldn’t lose to.”