Drexel was not only able to avenge an earlier defeat, but the Dragons snapped a losing streak against a nemesis on Thursday night. With junior forward Alihan Demir contributing 20 points and eight rebounds, the Dragons defeated the University of North Carolina Wilmington, 69-57, in a Colonial Athletic Association game at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
Drexel evened the score for an 97-83 loss at UNCW last month, while also halting a seven-game losing streak to the Seahawks.
In addition, Drexel (12-13) pulled even in the CAA with a 6-6 record with six games to go. UNCW (8-17, 4-8) dropped its fourth consecutive game.
“It feels amazing,” said Demir, who shot 9 of 14 from the field. “We have been losing to them even before my era, and it feels great to beat them on our home court.”
James Butler, a 6-foot-8 sophomore transfer from Navy, had a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds, one shy of his career-best 16. Graduate student Trevor John scored 14 points, hitting 4 of 9 from three-point range. Freshman point guard Camren Wynter scored 4 points on just four shots, with eight assists and no turnovers.
UNCW was led by 6-7 senior Devontae Cacok, who had 15 points and nine rebounds.
“To limit Cacok to nine rebounds is a big deal,” Drexel coach Zach Spiker said.
In last month’s game, Cacok had 24 points and 12 rebounds, seven on the offensive glass. He is averaging 12.1 rebounds.
Spiker says he liked what he saw of the Dragons’ defense.
“To hold them to 57 for the entire game shows the progress we are making,” Spiker said. “They scored 57 in the second half down there.”
It was the second straight win for Drexel, which led, 23-22, at halftime.
Trailing 46-45, Drexel took control for good with an 8-0 run that ended with two Butler free throws, for a 53-46 advantage with 8 minutes, 16 seconds left. From there, UNCW wouldn’t get closer than 5 points.
The difference in the game was three-point shooting. Drexel was 8 for 22, (36.4 percent), compared to 2 for 18 (11.1 percent) for the Seahawks.
At UNCW last month, the Seahawks were 12 of 36 from three-point range. This time, Drexel did a better job contesting the three and denying shots from beyond the arc.
The win demonstrated the Dragons’ improvement this season and since last year. They are one victory away from matching last year’s 13 wins.