Jared Leveson (@jared_leveson)
PRINCETON, N.J. — The Dragons traveled across the Delaware River to face an undefeated Princeton team after a historic win over Villanova last Saturday at the Big 5 Classic.
They won their first-ever Big 5 game, head coach Zach Spiker earned his 200th career win and beat an AP Top 25 team for the first time in 13 years.
Zach Spiker (above) and Drexel fell to 5-4 on the season. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
However, the Dragons (5-4) failed to maintain Saturday's high on Tuesday Night at Jadwin Gymnasium. The Tigers (9-0) shut down CAA Preseason Player of the Year Amari Williams, and despite Kobe Magee's career-scoring night, Drexel got outpaced by Perkiomen School alumnus Xavian Lee and Princeton's offense, who shot the lights out, defeating Drexel 81-70.
"We are all chasing consistency," the eighth-year head coach said. "Certainly, we had a nice win and we didn't follow that up with our best performance.
"I think we played a really good team and we didn't play our best."
Princeton also entered Tuesday Night's contest after an emotional win on Saturday. Senior Matt Alloco's three-pointer erased an 11-point deficit to Furman and preserved the Tigers' perfect record, winning 70-69.
The Tigers weren't phased by the quick turnaround, unlike the Dragons. They dominated from the opening jump and never trailed.
Princeton's defense, one of the nation's top units in scoring defense (44th), caused many problems for Drexel. It started with shutting down Williams. The Tigers sprung a trap whenever he got the ball in the post.
The Englishman struggled to get touches, and when he did, he failed to make the most of them. Drexel's stalwart only played 14 minutes and didn't hit a shot on three attempts. His two points came from a pair of first-half free throws.
Spiker didn't have an answer for Williams' uncharacteristic night. But he did have an answer for decreasing his leading scorer and rebounder minutes.
"When you are chasing from behind, you go to some different lineups to figure some things out," he explained.
Sometimes, Willaims held the ball for too long when trapped, and even when he dished the ball out, Drexel couldn't find the bottom of the net.
The Dragon's offense shot 35.9% from the field and 22.2% from three.
Kobe MaGee was one of the only bright spots for Drexel's offense. The Allentown native came off the bench but contributed a career-high 18 points and went 8 for 14 from the field. He also added five rebounds and one block.
"I thought he played hard," Spiker added. "He took advantage of the opportunities to score in the game."
Justin Moore, a sophomore from Archbishop Wood, put together an excellent game along with MaGee. He finished with 19 points, three steals, and went 8-for-10 from the free throw line.
While the Dragons outrebounded the Tigers 41-27 (19-4 on the offensive glass), it didn't matter.
Without production from Williams, Yame Butler (eight points), Lamar Oden Jr. (four points), and Luke House (two points), Drexel couldn't keep up with the Tigers' offense.
Princeton couldn't miss.
Drexel switched to a 3-2 zone halfway through the second half after Princeton shot 50% from the field in the first frame. Still, head coach Mitch Henderson's squad didn't flinch and continued moving the ball with purpose and shooting confidently.
Spiker's zone didn't last long, as Princeton's shot-making improved to 57% at the end of the game.
Lee, averaging a team-high 19 points per game, led the way offensively for the Tigers. He finished with 23 points, 9-of-20 from the field, and 3-for-8 from three. He also had a season high nine rebounds and six assists.
The Perkiomen School product played 13.4 minutes per game and scored 4.8 points per game as a freshman. Year two has been quite the improvement for Lee; he's been a critical cog in Princeton's best start since 1920.
He has strung together a series of impressive performances recently. He had a career-high 30-point effort against Northeastern, 15 against Bucknell, and 24 in a win over Furman.
Because of that stretch, the sophomore earned Ivy League Player of the Week honors.
"I think he's one of the most improved players in the country, in the country," Spiker said. "He was a tough matchup for us all night, credit to him."
Princeton snapped Drexel's four-game winning streak over them at the DAC last season 83-63 and extended its series lead over the Dragons to 11-4.
"They are a really good team," Spiker said. "If you give them an inch, they'll make you pay, and I thought they made us pay.”
Drexel has another tough road test when they travel to Morgantown, WV. for a Saturday date with the West Virginia Mountaineers.