Last Wednesday, Drexel's Samme Givens began donning a yellow jersey at practice.
Having fallen victim to a rash of injuries, fellow low-post players Leon Spencer, Evan Neisler, and Kevin Phillip watched from the sideline.
Givens' yellow jersey meant he was entering coach Bruiser Flint's starting lineup, and the sophomore's opportunity came yesterday as the Dragons handled St. Francis (Pa.), 57-35, at the Daskalakis Center.
In the game's opening minute, Givens tore down an offensive rebound, pounded a dribble and powered in a layup.
That would be the story of the day. Neither Givens nor the Dragons ever looked back vs. the Red Flash. The win evened Drexel's record at 5-5 while St. Francis fell to 3-6.
Against a frontcourt lacking a starter over 6-foot-6, the 6-5 Givens played like a 7-footer. A commanding performance gave him career highs in points (24), rebounds (16), and field goals (9).
"I was always bigger than everyone playing in high school and elementary school," said Givens, who finished with seven offensive rebounds. "Now it's kind of different because I'm smaller, but I still have to take the same mentality out there. I've got to play hard and be ruthless."
As Givens was ruthless on the offensive end, the Dragons' defense matched his ferocity. After jumping out to leads of 9-0, 12-2 and 25-4, they held St. Francis to nine points in the first half - a Drexel record for an opponent's points in a half. Old Dominion at least reached double digits Dec. 10, 2005, when the Monarchs set the previous low of 10 points.
The Red Flash ended the woeful half with 11 turnovers and zero assists. A 3-for-23 shooting performance left coach Don Friday flummoxed.
"I heard the ghost of Dr. Naismith telling me I was disgracing the game," he later said in jest.
Meanwhile, Givens individually outscored the Red Flash with 14 points in the first half. For the game, all but one of his field goals came from inside the paint. A simple 15-foot baseline jumper fell late in the first half.
"I've told him that if he can develop that midrange jump shot then he'll be unstoppable," Flint said.
While Givens was the only Drexel player to finish in double figures, seven other players scored. Jamie Harris had nine points to go with five assists, while Chris Fouch hit a pair of three-pointers to finish with six points.
Devin Sweetney paced St. Francis with 15 points.
Drexel held the Red Flash to 26.9 percent shooting, including 0 for 13 from behind the arc. The painful St. Francis performance was further marred by 16 turnovers and a 43-33 rebounding margin in favor of Drexel.