AN ANNOUNCED audience of 1,101 preferred watching Drexel-Iona basketball yesterday instead of the Eagles-Giants game on television. What the fans at the Daskalakis Athletic Center saw was predictable: Iona rolled to an 81-62, nonconference victory.
Iona (8-4) entered the game averaging 85.5 points per game. Junior A.J. English, from Wilmington, was leading the nation in scoring (23.4 points per game).
Despite its record, Drexel (now 2-9) had been limiting opponents to 62.2 ppg. The Dragons' problem has been offensively, where Damion Lee (19.9) and Tavon Allen (10.3) are the only threats. The Dragons were averaging just 57.8 ppg.
"We knew we had to get back on transition, but we didn't," coach Bruiser Flint said after Drexel's fifth consecutive loss. "You can't shoot 34 percent [against Iona]. They're going to score, so you've got to make them play some defense."
Lee and Allen each scored 18 points to lead Drexel. On the downside, Flint said, "Our starting big guys [Rodney Williams and Mohamed Bah] gave us four points and nine rebounds [all by Williams; Bah played 3 minutes]."
Drexel continues playing with a depleted roster. Sophomore point guard Major Canady and senior forward Kazembe Abif (junior eligibility) are out for the season with injuries. Now, little-used Sooren Derboghosian, a 6-10 senior transfer from UCLA, is sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury. He is only averaging 1.8 points and 1.8 rebounds.
The good news for Drexel: Freshman forward Austin Williams played his first game since the season opener. Recovered from a foot injury, Williams had four points and five rebounds in 24 minutes.
More good news for the Dragons: Freshman guard Sammy Mojica followed his season-high 14-point output vs. Penn State with 10 points yesterday.
So, as Drexel prepares to launch its Colonial Athletic Association schedule, is there hope it can still have a successful season and at least fulfill the preseason fourth-place finish? Flint didn't seem too optimistic.
"Our record is what it is because of who we are," Flint said. "We don't play with any smarts. We're not organized at both ends of the floor. Talentwise we're not bad, but we play sloppily."
Flint said the Dragons have to stop thinking about who they don't have available. "This is what we have; we have to get ourselves together," he said. "We have to let these guys know this isn't good enough."
Iona coach Tim Cluess, who has guided the Gaels to 20 wins in four of his first five seasons and NCAA Tournament appearances in 2 of past 3 years, said his plan was to key on Lee and Allen "and make the other guys beat us."
The game was tied four times early in the first half. After Iona took the lead, Drexel kept the margin within five to seven points until the Gaels widened their advantage to 40-29 at halftime.
Trailing by 15 early in the second half, Drexel outscored Iona, 9-1. Then the Gaels went on a 10-0 run to clinch the game.
The 6-4 English, son of former NBA player A.J. English II, topped four double-figure Iona scorers with 19 points. David Laury, an active 6-9 senior, collected 17 points and 10 rebounds.