La Salle led from start to finish in a 71-63 win over Drexel Saturday afternoon at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
It wasn’t a Big 5 game, but there was a little late-game drama that made it feel like one. The Explorers led, 38-23, at halftime, but Drexel rallied to within 63-59 with 2 minutes, 3 seconds to go.
That was as close as the Dragons got. Camren Wynter missed an and-one free throw that would have cut the lead to one score. Ayinde Hikim scored at the other end, and the Explorers forced the Dragons into a shot clock violation on the ensuing possession. La Salle closed the game out from there.
David Beatty led the Explorers (5-3) with 14 points, and was one of five La Salle players in double figures. Zach Walton led the Dragons (5-5) with 19 points and 8 rebounds.
Keys to the game
La Salle shot 16-for-32 from the field in their dominant first half. Their defensive effort was even better, holding Drexel to 8-for-28 shooting, including just 1-for-3 from three-point range.
The Dragons weren’t much better from the perimeter in the second half, going 2-for-8 — though both threes came during the late comeback. But the defense stepped up, holding La Salle without a basket for a six-minute stretch late in the second half.
The Dragons forced 16 turnovers but scored just 13 points off them.
“I’m working my hardest to be that calming presence because it’s not natural for me. We have a young team that just needs to learn from experience, and me being a maniac on the sideline isn’t going to help them." — La Salle coach Ashley Howard, who played at Drexel under famously charismatic Bruiser Flint.
“We’ll challenge Cam to understand that’s what we’re going to see and to work harder to get the ball into his hands.” — Drexel coach Zach Spiker on guard Camren Wynter, who shot just 5-for-15 from the field, including 1-for-3 from three-point range.
La Salle coach Ashley Howard has given his freshmen a lot of playing time so far this season, but in this game he leaned on his older players. Ed Croswell, Isiah Deas, David Beatty and Scott Spencer all were on the floor for more than their average playing time, while freshmen Sherif Kenney, Brandon Stone and Christian Ray all saw less than usual.
Wynter’s workload was plenty big before Kurk Lee left the team in mid-November, and it has gotten bigger since. But he’s got two good options in the frontcourt in forward James Butler (12 points, 17 rebounds) and Walton, and Wynter has no problem feeding them in the paint.
The attendance at the DAC was just 1,006. Sure, there were other things going on Saturday — the Villanova-St. Joe’s game overlapped with this one, and the Flyers played at the same hour — but there were empty seats on all four sides of the gym, especially in the student section, which has a proud history of being lively.