LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Being a 16-point underdog proved to be no problem for the Drexel Dragons and their defense last night.
Drexel (7-1) got 20 points from Gerald Colds and 10 rebounds each from Daryl McCoy and Samme Givens to upset 20th-ranked Louisville, 52-46, at its new downtown arena, the KFC Yum! Center.
Louisville (8-1), which suffered its first loss, was off to its best start in 15 years, but Drexel annihilated the Cardinals on the boards, outrebounding them, 46-26.
"We didn't rebound,'' said Louisville coach Rick Pitino. "That tells the story, 46-26, a very simple stat.''
Said Drexel coach James "Bruiser'' Flint: "We thought we had a chance. We thought that we matched up really well with them, and we had to do the things we usually do, like rebounding well, to win the game. It's big for our program to go on the road and beat a team that is this good. You've got to come into these games and feel like you can win."
After a seesaw battle for 30 minutes, Drexel grabbed the lead for good with 8 minutes left, thanks to its defense. Time and again in the final minutes, McCoy and Givens came away with defensive rebounds, denying the Cardinals second shots. Louisville scored only four points in the final 8 minutes against Drexel's relentless middle men.
Meanwhile, Colds, who entered the game shooting less than 50 percent from the foul line, hit six of seven free throws to seal the game in the final 3 minutes. The Dragons shot only 48 percent from the line (12 of 25), and shot only 38.3 percent from the field (17-for-44), but held Louisville's shooters to 31.9 percent from the field (15-for-47).
"It's a big win for us, because they are a nationally ranked team, and this is their first loss in the new arena," Colds said. "It's big for our conference [Colonial Athletic Association], too. We came in here with one loss, a loss we didn't feel like we should have, so we came in here and decided we were going to win this one and got it.''
Though both teams slopped through a combined 21-turnover first half, Drexel built a 16-9 lead midway through the first on a 7-0 run, which Colds fueled with a pair of threes. The Dragons set the tone in the first half, outrebounding the Cards, 20-9.
Similarly, Louisville's defense didn't allow Drexel to build much of a cushion; it forced four straight turnovers - the Cardinals scored 12 points off turnovers in the first half - and reclaimed the lead with an 8-0 run and then moved ahead, 21-17, with 3 minutes left in the half.
But Drexel continued to hold the Cards down and regained the lead, 22-21, with 1:59 left and led, 25-23, at the half when Chris Fouch (10 points in the game) buried a three with 2 seconds left.
"When you don't get out on the break and don't rebound and do the little things that help you score [you lose]," Pitino said. "They deserve the victory and we didn't. Give them the credit."