LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Gerald Colds scored 20 points and Drexel stunned No. 20 Louisville, 52-46, on Tuesday night, handing the Cardinals their first loss in their new downtown arena.
Chris Fouch added 10 points for the Dragons (7-1), who ended Louisville's best start in 14 years by slowing the tempo and turning up the pressure on both ends of the court.
The Cardinals (8-1) shot 32 percent and were outrebounded 46-26 as the Dragons made all the little plays in a taut second half.
Preston Knowles and Peyton Siva led Louisville with 13 points each but the Cardinals made must one field goal over the final 8:30 as the Dragons posted their first win over a top-25 team since 2006.
Louisville had eight straight wins at the KFC Yum! Center to start the season and enter the rankings. It ended in a dismal performance that exposed some of the flaws the Cardinals had masked so well during their hot start.
Drexel repeatedly beat the Cardinals to loose balls and controlled the glass to overcome 22 turnovers and an ice-cold 12-for-25 performance at the free throw line.
Louisville wasn't any better. The Cardinals also went 12 for 25 at the line and could muster little halfcourt offense.
Still, Louisville appeared to be in control when a three-pointer by Knowles gave the Cardinals a 33-26 lead with 17 minutes to play.
Yet Louisville squandered numerous opportunities to blow it open, and Drexel made Louisville pay by hanging around and getting to the rim with regularity.
Samme Givens gave Drexel a 43-42 lead on a layup and the Dragons slowly - very slowly - extended it.
Louisville had its chances in the final minutes. The Cardinals missed 11 of their final 12 shots, including a three-pointer by Mike Marra that would have tied it at 47.
It was enough to let the Dragons hold on. They chased down a couple of key offensive rebounds in the last 3 minutes to extend possessions and keep Louisville working on defense.
Drexel held the Cardinals 36 points below their season average to beat a ranked team for the first time since beating then-No. 23 Syracuse in 2006.
The Dragons succeeded in doing what most of Louisville's early season opponents have failed to accomplish: slow down the Cardinals.
Drexel made Louisville consistently burn 20-25 seconds off the shot clock, denying the Cardinals open three-point looks and challenging them to drive the ball.
It worked, at least in the first half. The Cardinals were hamstrung in the middle when centers Terrence Jennings and Gorgui Dieng both picked up two quick fouls. Siva provided a spark during a 13-1 run that gave Louisville a 22-17 lead, but the Dragons ended the half with an 8-1 burst capped by a three-pointer from Fouch just before the horn.
It marked Louisville's lowest scoring half of the season and a sign of things to come.