Camren Wynter knew he had it going. He drove to the right side of the basket with the defender trailing on his left shoulder. Wynter rose up and made the layup as the defender fell to the floor, and he gave him a little stare and smirk afterwards.
The sophomore guard gave many more smirks and stares on his way to a career-high 31 points Wednesday as Drexel defeated Princeton, 82-76.
The Dragons (5-4) led 40-39 at the half and built its lead to as many as 15 points in the second half. When Princeton (1-6) trimmed the lead to six points midway through the second half, Wynter knocked down a corner three-pointer and a fastbreak layup for five points in 20 seconds.
The Tigers got within three points in the final minute after Zach Walton and Wynter each missed the front end of a one-and-one. But Drexel’s James Butler helped seal the game on the defensive end with an emphatic block, and Matey Juric made two free throws.
Keys to the game
Wynter doesn’t struggle with aggressiveness, but it felt like he unlocked another level against Princeton. He reached his previous career-high of 22 with 13 minutes left in the second half. His passing didn’t suffer, either. Wynter led the team with five assists.
Junior forward James Butler had his sixth double-double in nine games for Drexel, finishing with 18 points and 12 rebounds. The Dragons’ offense was a machine for 40 minutes. They shot 60% from the field.
The defense held Princeton to 8-of-29 shooting from three. Jaelin Llewellyn led Princeton with 28 points.
“I was being the player that I’ve been trying to be all year," Wynter said. “Just someone our guys can rely on, especially when times get hard down the stretch.”
“I think he was the best player on the floor the last two days of practice,” coach Zach Spiker said of Wynter. “What he’s done this week in practice was validated. I think that’s a lesson for everyone in our program."
“I think we are a really hard team to defend,” Wynter said. “We have a lot of guys that can score in different positions and different ways.”
Drexel is developing another low-post option in 6-10 junior Tadas Kararinas. He scored seven points, all in the first half, and made his first three-pointer of the season. He played six minutes, and Spiker said his minutes can go up if he continues to play well.
Learning a lesson in a win is always better than learning after a loss. Last season, none of the Drexel players was in the role he’s playing now, and that showed in the final minute. The Dragons were able to weather Princeton’s comeback bid, but their handling of late-game pressure is something they’ll need to improve.