Undermanned Drexel beats La Salle
Kurk Lee and Sammy Mojica combined for 42 points for the Dragons.
Drexel's basketball team, depleted by injuries, used only seven players against La Salle.
It turned out to be enough — barely.
The underdog Dragons led by as many as 13 points in the second half and held on for a 72-70 win Thursday over the Explorers at Tom Gola Arena.
Sophomore guard Kurk Lee scored 23 points and senior guard Sammy Mojica added 19 while both played 40 minutes for the Dragons (5-4).
B.J. Johnson had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Explorers (5-5).
"It is called adversity. We pushed through knowing we had seven guys, so we had to push through adversity," Lee said. "We kept going and stayed together as a team."
La Salle went on a 10-0 run and cut Drexel's lead to two points, 67-65, on a three-pointer by Isiah Deas with 3 minutes, 52 seconds left.
The game remained close.
With 8.1 seconds left, Drexel's 6-foot-8 Austin Williams, who had 16 points and seven rebounds, fouled out, depleting the Dragons' depth even more. La Salle's Johnson then made one of two free throws to get the Explorers within 72-70.
Drexel's Mojica missed both free throws with 6.5 seconds left. Deas missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.
"I was surprised at how little energy we had tonight and how quickly we fatigued," La Salle coach John Giannini said.
The Dragons found out before the game that guard Tramaine Isabell, fresh off a career-high 35-point performance in Saturday's 89-77 win over Rider, was out with a foot injury.
"I am not going to feel sorry for ourselves the way the roster is," Drexel coach Zach Spiker said. "The challenge was how hard can you play for 40 minutes, and you saw a pretty resounding response to that."
Isabell, a transfer from Missouri, joined a lengthy injury list that includes guards Miles Overton (calf), Troy Harper (shoulder), Sam Green (knee), and Kris Alford (leg).
Despite being banged up, Drexel took a 43-30 halftime lead as Lee and Mojica combined for 23 points.
"The reason this is a special win for us is because La Salle is a really good basketball program," Spiker said. "One with great tradition, great history."
Before the game a moment of silence was held for former La Salle great Roland "Fatty" Taylor, who died at 71 on Thursday of breast cancer. A Big Five Hall of Famer, Taylor played seven years in the ABA and one in the NBA.