ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. ― Drexel started Friday’s Boardwalk Battle with senior guard Zach Walton replacing sophomore guard Matey Juric for the second straight game.
In the first half, Juric played just five minutes while figuring his way through his new role.
But in the second half, Juric knocked down three 3-pointers and scored 11 of his 13 points to lead the Dragons to a 72-63 victory over Quinnipiac at Boardwalk Hall.
Keys to the game
Drexel’s role players - Juric, Mate Okros and Sam Green - each stepped up and knocked down much-needed shots. Okros finished 4-for-4 from three, and Green and Juric each went 3-for-5. The rest of the team shot 0-for-9 from three.
Cam Wynter led the Dragons with 19 points and eight assists. Okros added 14 points and Walton 10.
The matchup between two of the nation’s best rebounders went as advertised. Quinnipiac’s Kevin Marfo, ranked second in the nation with 13 boards per game, finished with 17 rebounds. Drexel’s James Butler, ninth while averaging 11.2, grabbed 14 rebounds.
“I just shot the ball the same way I’ve been shooting," Juric said. "It doesn’t matter if it goes in or goes out, I’m going to shoot it the same way. I believe in myself, and my teammates believe in me.”
“I thought that was a total team win for our group,” Drexel coach Zach Spiker said. “Our key was our defense. I don’t think they had many clean looks in the second half.”
“[Okros] is a freshman in the college world, but he’s played a lot of games internationally, and you can see that,” Spiker said. “That’s what excites us about him. He’s making the most of his opportunities.”
Drexel replaced Juric with Walton due to Juric’s ankle injury and to change things up. The new lineup gives the Dragons more size and offensive firepower early, but Spiker emphasizes the closing lineup as the most important. The Dragons finished the game with Wynter, Juric, Okros, Walton, and Butler.
Drexel held Quinnipiac to 36.7% shooting in the second half, and 25-for-63 (39.7%) overall. The Dragons had nine turnovers.
Drexel will face Norfolk State, which defeated Bowling Green, 72-67 in overtime, for the Boardwalk Battle championship Saturday at 4:30 p.m.