John Watts (@mrwatts007)
The last time the Drexel Dragons lost, it came at the hands of the Hofstra Pride.
Since that game on January 21, the Dragons reeled off six straight wins, including a victory over the then-conference leading Northeastern Huskies.
All that momentum seemed to be lost in the rematch.
In the Colonial Athletic Association showdown, it was Hofstra’s lockdown defense, efficient offense, and big momentum plays that gave the Pride a 81-57 win at the Daskalakis Athletic Center on Sunday afternoon.
It was a thorough beatdown in all aspects by Hofstra, but where the Pride really shone was in the paint. Led by senior forward Moussa Kone‘s 23 points, Hofstra out-scored Drexel 58-16 in the paint and out-rebounded them 34-26.
“They loose-ball, loose-rebounded us to death,” Flint said. “Even when they miss they go back and get it and keep it and we didn’t respond.”
After taking a 16-point first-half advantage thanks to that dominant performance inside, Hofstra pulled away in the second thanks to some sharp outside shooting.
Coming out of halftime, the Pride got a quick bucket from Kone, forced a Drexel turnover, and then sophomore wing Jamall Robinson drained a 3-pointer to put them up 46-25. On their next possession, Robinson hit another trey that really took the life out of the Dragons and their home crowd.
It was Kone who led the way for the Pride with 23 points on a perfect 10-for-10 from the floor, as the Dragons had no answer for the 6-foot-8, 240-pound senior forward.
“Honestly, Moussa Kone probably had his best two games of his career against us. He has been in this league for four years. I’ve seen him a lot,” Flint said. “But you know he played well against us, gotta give him credit.”
Drexel’s leading scorer Damion Lee, coming in averaging 21.1 ppg, just couldn’t find his groove. The junior guard finished with 15 points on 3-of-9 shooting.
Hofstra really set the tone of this game from the tip. They owned the paint and made sure that if Drexel was to score, it would not be easy. Switching up defenses and picking up the ball handler at 3/4 court, the Pride always had the Dragons off their game and on their heels.
“I think the teams that beat them in the league are the teams that take up the physical challenge against them. So if you take up the physical challenge against them, it’s a different ball game,” Flint said. “They switched man, zone so they confused us on offense a little bit. It’s hard to coach every dribble or every pass from the sideline.”
Similar to the outcome of the last game, which resulted in an 86-58 Hofstra win, the Pride out shot the Dragons. On that night, Drexel simply could not stop the Prides’ Brian Bernardi, who led Hofstra with 23 points. Bernardi was not the only Pride player who shot well in that January 21 matchup, as the team finished the game shooting over 50 percent from the field.
Bernardi was held to just two points tonight, shooting 1-5 from the field and 0-2 from downtown, but it didn’t make a difference.
“We tried a few things different from the first game. It didn’t work obviously,” Flint said. “You don’t want to lose by 30 points twice by the same team. But it was the exact same thing. They did the exact same thing. We talked about it but obviously we didn’t stop it.”
Tavon Allen, the Dragons’ second leading scorer, led the team with 20 points and 5 rebounds. He was 7-for-19 as the only Drexel player who could get anything going from the floor.
Drexel’s third leading scorer Rodney Williams, who missed eight games this season due to a foot injury, including the Dragons’ first loss against Hofstra, left the game after taking an elbow to the head. He will be evaluated tomorrow.
Drexel, now 8-6 in CAA play and 10-15 overall, will look to get back to its winning ways this Wednesday at James Madison at 7:00.