PISCATAWAY— Somehow, Drexel just kept hanging around, but it wasn’t enough in a 62-57 loss to Rutgers on Wednesday night.
The Dragons were down by as many as 10 in the first half, but methodically chipped away with a 13-2 run. They took a 31-30 into the half.
Then, it was Rutgers’ turn. The Scarlet Knights went on a 10-0 run early in the second half to build their lead back to 10. But once again, Drexel wouldn’t go away. The Dragons tied it at 47 after back-to-back three-pointers.
The Scarlet Knights stepped up their defensive intensity and made clutch free throws to put the Dragons away late.
Keys to the game
Matey Juric’s job for Drexel is to harass players defensively, and he did it. Juric had two steals, which extends his streak of multiple steals to four games to start the season. On one steal, Juric came from the opposite corner, near the three-point line, and stole the ball out of the hands of a forward who was attempting to post up.
Drexel’s offensive attack was balanced in the first half. Eight of 10 players scored, led by Sam Green’s six. However, they didn’t shoot the ball well. Drexel shot 21 of 65 overall. Zach Walton led all Drexel scorers with 11 points. Coletrane Washington added eight points off the bench and hit two clutch threes in the second half.
Sophomore Cam Wynter had one of his best games this season, according to coach Zach Spiker. Wynter finished the game with nine points and four assists, but created several looks behind the three-point line for teammates. Drexel shot 9 of 27 on threes and had 10 assists on 21 made baskets. They averaged 17 assists entering the game.
“They have the best point guard in the CAA, and [James] Butler is the best big guy in that league,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said.
“We have to keep chipping away and eventually we’ll feel success at the end of the game,” Spiker said. “This was a great test for us and I think our guys kept taking punches and kept delivering punches. I think our guys showed their resolve and toughness."
“We didn’t score a bunch, but I thought we had some really good looks. We didn’t make shots,” Spiker said.
What it means
Wynter was averaging 33 minutes per game before playing Rutgers, but that’s likely to go up. Senior guard Kurk Lee left the team before the game against Rutgers for personal reasons. Without Lee as his backup, Wynter played 39 minutes.
Drexel is resilient. Rutgers had a double-digit lead in both halves and each time, the Dragons rallied back to take the lead. The next step will be finishing those games in the final two minutes.