NBA organizations were well-represented last night at the Daskalakis Athletic Center, where Drexel faced a Rider squad that featured forward Jason Thompson, a 6-foot-11 all-American candidate.
What unfolded was a nice performance by Thompson, and a 73-66 victory for the Dragons.
Drexel trailed by 10 points with 17 minutes, 40 seconds remaining. The Dragons were down by three before two three-point shots each by guards Gerald Colds and Tramayne Hawthorne during a 12-2 run put Rider in a 67-60 hole at the 3:10 mark.
Hawthorne finished with 15 points and Colds with 14.
"Coach told us any time we're open, shoot it," said Hawthorne, who scored all his points after intermission. "That's what happened for us in the second half."
The Dragons did not trail again against the Broncs, who took a three-game winning streak into the game. Rider was coming off a 61-57 upset at Rutgers on Dec. 21, which followed two other road wins.
"They made big shots," said Rider coach Tommy Dempsey, whose team fell to 8-5. "The team that wanted it more got it."
Thompson, a senior who graduated from Lenape High School in Burlington County, was averaging 19.8 points and 11.3 rebounds. He finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, and had a highlight-reel play when he drove the baseline for a slam over Frank Elegar in the first half.
"I know that they're in the stands, but I try not to worry about that," Thompson said of the NBA types. "I'm all about my team."
Elegar, a 6-9 senior who also hoped to make an impression on the eight scouts - some have visited Drexel practices - scored nine points and pulled down 10 rebounds as Drexel improved to 7-5. Elegar was averaging 13.7 points and 6.9 rebounds.
Drexel leads the series, 27-26. The home team has come out on top in each of the last five seasons.
The Dragons, who won their second straight game, will meet St. Joseph's on Monday at the Palestra before opening play in the Colonial Athletic Association at home Wednesday against North Carolina-Wilmington.
Rider, a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, started Thompson's brother, Ryan, a sophomore, in the backcourt. Also on Rider's roster are seniors Kamron Warner (Pleasantville High) and Joel Green (Harriton High), freshmen Matt Griffin (St. Joseph's Prep), Mike Ringgold (Roman Catholic), and Patrick Mansell (Cheltenham High), and Mansell's brother, Harris, a junior out of Cheltenham.
Jason Thompson was limited in the first half after being tagged with two fouls. But Rider held its own while its go-to player was out.
The Broncs led, 29-25, before Thompson reentered the game and scored six straight points to help his team gain a 35-29 advantage with less than three minutes remaining in the first half.
Drexel trailed by 37-30 at the break. Thompson had 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the half, and Elegar scored seven points. Colds topped the Dragons with eight.
"Pick up the intensity," Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said. "That was the speech at halftime."