Home was sweet, and 10-for-10 foul shooting in the closing seconds was even sweeter for Drexel Saturday in a tightly fought 64-60 win over Princeton in a nonconference game at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
The Dragons (3-4) had not been on their own floor for a game since the season got under way a month ago. However, they had played twice in the area with losses at St. Joseph's and last weekend at Delaware in a Colonial Athletic Association matchup in the conference they are picked to win.
"It felt funny being in the locker room just before the game," Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said with a smile. "It was like, 'Man, we haven't been here yet.' You know you put things on the board and things like that, everybody got a routine. I was like, 'Man, this is the first time we did this and we've been playing for a month now.'
"But actually if we had been on the road, we wouldn't have won this game. Home court makes a big advantage, believe me."
Though holding a narrow lead most of the game against the Tigers (4-6), the game almost got away from Flint's group when Princeton went on a 14-5 run to erase an eight-point deficit and go ahead 55-54 with 1 minute, 45 seconds left to play on a pair of foul shots by 6-foot-5 sophomore guard T.J. Bray.
However, with just 1:01 left, Drexel 6-7 freshman reserve forward Abif Kazembe stopped the Tigers from expanding their lead when he took an offensive charge from Princeton 6-7 junior forward Ian Hummer. The Tigers' leading scorer who had a team high 18 points.
"That was the biggest play of the game," Flint said of Drexel regaining possession.
The Dragons then got the lead back on a pair of free throws from 6-4 sophomore guard Frantz Massenat to go up by one with 33.4 seconds left.
Drexel stayed in front the rest of the way by completing a string of 10 straight foul shots - four more by Massenat and four from 6-6 freshman guard Damion Lee, who grabbed two key rebounds from Princeton missed shots.
It was only the Dragons' second win in the 11-game series between the two schools, who had not met since 2005 when Drexel took the opener of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Furthermore, the Tigers had not visited Drexel since 1930, even though the Princeton campus is a little over an hour away to the north.
Drexel's Chris Fouch had a game-high 23 points playing in his third game since returning from a knee injury that caused him to miss the first four.
"I knew it was going to come down to the wire and hang on a couple of possessions and it did," first-year Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said.
"Unfortunately, we knew a lot about [Fouch] and were worried he was going to break out at some point," Henderson added. "And we did not want it to be against us. And it was against us."
Fouch played 29 minutes, shooting 7 for 15 from the field, and 7 for 7 from the foul line.
"He's our leading scorer from last year and you saw what he does," Flint said and then jested, "He'll be complaining tomorrow His doctor will be telling me I played him way too much.
"It's rough out there but he fought through it."
Starting guard Derrick Thomas did not play because of an illness.
Lee finished for Drexel with 13 points and eight rebounds while Messenat scored 12 and dealt four assists. Samme Givens (Academy of the New Church), the Dragons' lone senior, had 10 points.