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Tramaine Isabell's career night carries Drexel past Rider, 89-77

Junior guard Tramaine Isabell, a transfer from Missouri, scored a career-high 35 points , including 22 in the second half to lead the Dragons to a non-league win over the Broncos.

Tramaine Isabell (2) takes a layup covered by Anthony Durham (12) as Rider meets Drexel at the Daskalakis Center Saturday December 2, 2017
Tramaine Isabell (2) takes a layup covered by Anthony Durham (12) as Rider meets Drexel at the Daskalakis Center Saturday December 2, 2017Read moreDAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer

Sammy Mojica knows how hard it can be to defend Tramaine Isabell.

The Drexel senior guard had to do it quite a bit last season when Isabell, a Missouri transfer, played on the scout team as he sat out due to NCAA transfer rules.

On Saturday, Rider was tasked with stopping Isabell. As he did for Mojica last season, Isabell made things difficult for the Broncs' defense all day long.

The junior guard scored a career-high 35 points and added 13 rebounds as Drexel beat Rider, 89-77, in a nonleague game at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

"It just happens," Isabell said. "My teammates look for me, and I just try to get the best shot in the flow of the offense, and then I just have confidence in my ability."

Helped by Isabell's 13 points, the Dragons led by as many as 13 points in the first. But Drexel went into halftime trailing, 41-39, after a late run by the Broncs and a three-pointer by Rider's Devine Eke at the buzzer.

In the second half, Isabell continued his dominant scoring effort. He and Mojica, who scored a career-high 22 points, combined for 40 points (22 from Isabell) during the game's final 20 minutes to help Drexel outlast Rider down the stretch.

Isabell finished the game 11 of 18 from the floor, including 6 of 9 in the second half. He is averaging 22 points a game after Saturday's win and has four games of  20-or-more points. Saturday's performance was his second 30-point outing of the season.

"He is a scorer, and he was very efficient," Drexel coach Zach Spiker said. "To have that on 18 shots, and then he found some guys. He was good today."

Despite Isabell's 35-point outing, Spiker said his guard's most impressive play of the day came on one of his three assists.

After Rider cut Drexel's double-digit lead  to two with 3 minutes, 30 seconds left in the game, Isabell drove down the lane and kicked the ball to sophomore forward Alihan Demir on the Dragons' next possession. Demir knocked down the three, which was part of an 8-1 run to put the game away.

"I hit him a couple times and he kept pump faking," Isabell said of Demir who took just four shots in 28 minutes. "I told him during a timeout just shoot the ball."

Drexel appeared to be loaded at the guard spot coming into this season. However, injuries have cost the Dragons some depth at the position.

Senior Miles Overton has played in just one game while dealing with a calf injury and Troy Harper, a junior, has missed Drexel's last three games with a shoulder injury. That has left Isabell, Mojica and sophomore Kurk Lee to shoulder a large load of the backcourt work.

Isabell came off the bench in his first four games, but Spiker inserted him into the starting lineup when Harper went down. After playing in all 40 minutes of Drexel's win against Lafayette on Tuesday, Isabell played 39 minutes Saturday.

"I feel like with our depth being so down, you know you have to show out," Isabell said. "You have to bring it every day. You can't have an off game because you don't have the players to help you."