THE SAMME SHOW was the featured entertainment last night at Drexel.
Samme Givens, Drexel's only senior, did pretty much what he wanted to do against Fairfield. Twisting, turning and skying, the 6-5 Givens owned Samme-land, the interior at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
Givens scored a career-high 31 points in leading Drexel (7-4) to its fifth consecutive victory, a 77-69 decision. Givens shot 13-for-16 from the field, 5-for-6 from the free-throw line and added a game-high nine rebounds.
As terrific as Givens was, though, the outcome wasn't without some heart palpitations for Drexel coach Bruiser Flint and the near-capacity crowd of 2,469. Fairfield (7-6) trimmed a 16-point Drexel lead with 3 minutes, 32 seconds to go to four with 53 seconds remaining. Finally, a Franz Massenat (11 points, five assists) driving layup with 24 seconds left gave the Dragons some breathing room.
Fairfield, from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, had won five of the last six meetings with Drexel.
Complimenting Givens, Fairfield coach Sydney Johnson said, "He plays with a lot of heart and skill. He played harder that whoever was playing him. We had a clear-cut game plan for him, but his will overcame what we were trying to do."
A key for Givens was making his first few shots. When that happens, a basketball player has a sense he cannot miss.
"When I made my first couple shots it felt good," a smiling Givens said. "Everything was falling. Our guards did a good job of getting me the ball, and I [also] could make plays for other people."
Fairfield was a good matchup for Givens; other than 7-foot senior Ryan Olander the Stags don't have a lot of size.
Asked if he knew he was closing in on a career high, Givens smiled again and replied, "I thought I was close to something."
Chris Fouch is the last Drexel player to reach the 30 points level, scoring 30 against Binghamton last season.
In the last four games Givens has made 30-of-39 field-goal attempts (.769 percent). Entering last night's game the first-team pre-season Colonial Athletic Association selection was averaging 11.5 points (fourth on the team) and a team-leading 6.8 rebounds.
In addition to Givens' basketball skills, the undersized forward also has superb hoops instincts.
"He's crafty," Flint said. "He does a good job getting in position and he has a nice [shooting] touch. He's also making foul shots. Now, guys don't foul you and you get more baskets."
Fairfield appeared it would be in control at the start. The Stags led by eight points when Drexel triggered an 18-0 run. Early in the run, Johnson, in his first season at the Connecticut university after coaching at Princeton, was assessed a technical foul.
The Stags closed within four points late in the half, but Givens converted a three-point play and Damion Lee sank a three-pointer. The Dragons were on top 38-33 at intermission. Givens paced Drexel with 16 points in the half.
After Fairfield narrowed Drexel's lead to four again early in the second half, five points from Derrick Thomas (a three-pointer and two free throws) and a jam by Daryl McCoy boosted the Dragons' lead to 11.
Derek Needham (18 points) and Rakim Sanders (17) led four Fairfield scorers in double figures.
The Dragons' victory followed South Carolina's 62-58 win over Drexel's women. Having a doubleheader boosted the night's attendance.