Home was sweet, and 10-for-10 foul shooting in the closing seconds even sweeter, for Drexel in a tightly fought, 64-60 win over visiting Princeton in a nonconference game Saturday 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 - 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.' 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 the Dragons held a narrow lead most of the game against the Tigers (4-6), the game almost got away from Flint's squad. Princeton went on a 14-5 run to erase an eight-point deficit and go ahead, 55-54, on a pair of foul shots by 6-foot-5 sophomore guard T.J. Bray with 1 minute, 45 seconds left to play.
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.
"That was the biggest play of the game," Flint said of Drexel's regaining possession.
The Dragons then got the lead back on two 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.
It was only the Dragons' second win in the 11-game series between the two schools. They 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 just a little more than 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.
Fouch played 29 minutes, shooting 7 for 15 from the field, and 7 for 7 from the foul line.
Starting guard Derrick Thomas did not play because of illness.