Instant Replay: Drexel 85, Cleveland State 82 (3OT)

usa-drexel-slideshow.jpg

Instant Replay: Drexel 85, Cleveland State 82 (3OT)

BOX SCORE

Drexel won its second straight triple-overtime game Wednesday night with an 85-82 victory over visiting Cleveland State.

Tied at 58 after 40 minutes of play, neither team could shake one another in the first extra period, and though Cleveland State held an advantage for the majority of the second OT, the Dragons fought back with tough defense and late free throws to send it to the third overtime.

In the third bonus period, the Dragons relied heavily on senior forward Dartaye Ruffin, who scored five of his team’s 11 points in the final five minutes for the win.

Frantz Massenat guided the Dragons to the victory with 21 points, nine assists and six rebounds, including two free throws with seven seconds left in the third overtime.

Senior forward Jon Harris led the way for Cleveland State. After managing just two points in 11 first half minutes, he finished with a game-high 24 points on 7 of 11 shooting.

First half
In the team’s previous four games, the Dragons held their opponents to 23 points or fewer in the first 20 minutes. Wednesday night was no different as they held Cleveland State to 20 first-half points on 36 percent shooting.

While the defense led the show, the Dragons couldn’t find their offensive rhythm early and the game was tied 15-15 with 7:33 left. The Dragons rode a 15-2 run in the next 6:06 en route to a 30-20 halftime lead.

The Vikings’ Sebastian Douglas initially did a good job of guarding Drexel’s Chris Fouch, who was held to just three points in the first 13 minutes. But Fouch came alive in the final seven, finishing the half with a team-high 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting.

Tavon Allen’s first half was more of the same as the sophomore guard continued to struggle since his two-game explosion in New Jersey two weeks ago. He shot just 1 for 6 from the field and committed two fouls.

Bryn Forbes, the Vikings’ leading scorer heading into Wednesday night’s contest, couldn’t find his rhythm from behind the arc. Normally a 49 percent shooter from three, Forbes missed all three of his open looks from deep in 15 first-half minutes and scored just two points.

Inside the box score
• The Vikings’ Harris entered the game averaging just nine points per game through seven games. Wednesday night he scored a career-high 27 points on 8 of 12 shooting.

• Drexel grabbed 14 offensive rebounds to Cleveland State’s seven, resulting in 23 second-chance points for Bruiser Flint’s squad.

• Neither team led by more than four points in the final 25:20 of the game.

Halftime adjustments
Cleveland State entered the game shooting 43 percent from the field through seven games. In the first half Wednesday night, the Vikings managed just 36 percent.

But the second half was a different story as they went 14 of 20 from the field, including 6 of 8 from behind the arc and 4 of 5 from the free throw line.

The Vikings finished exactly 50 percent from the field.

What's next?
Drexel hosts to Tennessee State (0-8) Saturday at 4 p.m., while Cleveland State heads to Akron (1-2) Saturday at 2 p.m.

Villanova pushes past Creighton despite exhaustion before off week

Villanova pushes past Creighton despite exhaustion before off week

BOX SCORE

VILLANOVA, PA. – Jay Wright finally admitted what we could all see.

The Wildcats are gassed.

No. 2 Villanova beat No. 23 Creighton, 79-63, Saturday at the Pavilion to clinch the Big East Conference regular-season title outright (see Instant Replay).

The Wildcats are 27-3 and 14-3 in the conference, but the last couple weeks their lack of depth has shown.

With Omari Spellman ruled ineligible before the season by the NCAA, Phil Booth out since November with lingering knee pain and Darryl Reynolds out the last five games with a rib injury, Wright has essentially been limited to five starters, freshman Dante DiVincenzo off the bench and a few minutes a night from freshman Dylan Painter.

It's taken a significant toll on the six guys in the rotation. 

Big late leads have dwindled or, in the case of Wednesday’s game against Butler, disappeared. Three-pointers have front-rimmed. Defensive assignments have been missed.

Through it all, Wright refused to admit fatigue was an issue.

Now, with the Wildcats securely the top seed in next month’s conference tournament, Wright is being honest about his team.

They’re exhausted.

“I know you guys have asked a lot, 'Do I think we’re getting worn down with seven guys, 6 1/2 guys,' and I said I don’t think so, I think we can do it,” Wright said Saturday after the Senior Day win over Creighton.

“I gotta answer your question, but it just doesn’t do us any good saying we’re worn out. It’s not an excuse. Other teams have things to deal with. I get we weren’t pretty, we haven’t been pretty, today wasn’t pretty. But I think it just speaks to the leadership of these seniors and I think it speaks to the character of these seniors (that they got through it).

“Are they tired? Yeah. Are they worn down some? Yeah. But it doesn’t matter. Other teams got stuff too. It’s not the reason you lose. It can’t be the reason you lose. Maybe you were tired and you didn’t concentrate or we didn’t defend or we didn’t rebound. That’s what happened and that’s the way we look at it.

“I wasn’t trying to BS you, I was just saying that whether you’re tired or not doesn’t matter, you’ve got to get it done, and we got it done. I’m so proud of them and it’s senior leadership. It’s talented players and senior leadership.”

Villanova now has a week off before an essentially meaningless game next Saturday at Georgetown.

It’ll be the Wildcats’ first extended break since the season began.

“They haven’t had an off week because they played Virginia (two weeks ago in a non-conference game), and now they get it and a chance to get their legs back,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said.

“It’s a long season and when you don’t really have a chance to catch your breath, especially because he’s riding six or seven guys pretty hard right now? I’m sure this week off will do them some good.”

Sophomore transfer Eric Paschall had a career day Saturday, with 19 points on 8-for-12 shooting to go with six rebounds. Josh Hart added 16 points and eight boards, Kris Jenkins overcame another off shooting night from three (1 for 7) to record 15 points, four boards and three assists, and Mikal Bridges had 11 points and eight rebounds. DiVincenzo and Jalen Brunson each scored nine points. 

The next meaningful game Villanova plays will be March 9 in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament in New York.

Now it’s time to rest. And heal.

“It’s going to be good for us,” Jenkins said. “We get a couple days off. We’ll still watch film, still learn, still get better, but physically we need a couple days to regroup and get ready for Georgetown and then the Big East tournament.

“Georgetown is first, but we really do need this break.”

On Saturday, Villanova built an 11-point lead, gave it all away, fell behind, traded off seven second-half lead changes, then went on a 16-4 run midway through the second half to finally put away the Bluejays.

With the threes not falling, the Wildcats focused on attacking the rim and scoring in the post in the second half.

Jenkins in particular had an unusual game. He stopped shooting treys and made 5 of 8 shots from inside the arc. That’s the second-most two-pointers he’s ever made and the most he’s ever attempted.

“Just playing off my teammates and adjusting to how teams play me,” said Jenkins, shooting just 30 percent from three the last 10 games.

“They really take away threes and try not to let me get any clean catches so always being aggressive and trying to make the right play.”

For a tired team, backing off the threes was huge.

Villanova outscored Creighton 36-18 over the last 14 minutes after Creighton took its biggest lead – two points at 43-41.

Now comes rest.

“It’s big for these guys,” Wright said. “In my mind, we just had to get to today. We just gotta get through it without getting somebody else hurt and without just being dead.

“Because we’re going to get time off. We’re going to take Sunday off, we’re going to have a light day Monday, and then we’re going to take Tuesday off, because these guys really need the rest. So this is perfect timing for us.”

College Hoops wrap: St. Joe's edged in usual ending at Saint Louis

ap-james-demery-st-joes.jpg
AP Images

College Hoops wrap: St. Joe's edged in usual ending at Saint Louis

No. 2 Villanova bounced back with a win over No. 23 Creighton, clinching the Big East regular-season title outright (see Instant Replay). Meanwhile, Temple was able to clip Tulane in double overtime to end a three-game losing streak (see Instant Replay).

Here's a look at the rest of college hoops in the Philly area. 

Saint Joseph's edged by Saint Louis in unusual ending, 61-60
ST. LOUIS -- Jalen Johnson scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, Mike Crawford hit a key 3-pointer, and Saint Louis edged Saint Joseph's 61-60 with an unusual ending on Saturday.

The Billikens were up 61-58 with five seconds left when Crawford missed a pair of free throws. The Hawks' Jai Williams grabbed the rebound and passed to James Demery. Demery dribbled the floor and bypassed Brendan Casper, who was calling for the ball just outside the 3-point arc, and made a layup as time expired, sealing a one-point win for Saint Louis.

Crawford's 3-pointer gave the Billikens a 59-58 lead with 1:15 to play. Johnson forced a turnover on Saint Joseph's next possession, and Aaron Hines made a layup to stretch the lead to 61-58.

Saint Louis (10-19, 5-11 Atlantic 10) snapped a three-game losing skid.

Chris Clover scored 17 points to lead Saint Joseph's (10-18, 3-13), which has lost eight straight (see full recap).

Drexel downed in Charleston, 80-67
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Jarrell Brantley scored 22 points, grabbed nine rebounds and had four steals, Joe Chealey added 16 with three steals, and the College of Charleston beat Drexel 80-67 on Saturday to win its fourth straight.

Cameron Johnson scored 14 for the Cougars (23-8, 14-4), who have a No. 2 seed and first-round bye secured at next week's Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.

Chealey's free throw put the Cougars up for good 11-10 en route to a 36-26 halftime lead. Brantley hit three straight free throws and the Cougars led by 18, 70-52, with 6:30 left to play in the second half and were never seriously threatened.

The Cougars shot 27 of 40 free throws and outrebounded the Dragons 39-32, scoring 14 second-chance points off of 13 offensive rebounds.

Kurk Lee scored 13 points for Drexel (9-22, 3-15), which has lost five straight (see full recap).

Penn State allows near triple-double to Mason, loses to Minnesota, 81-71
MINNEAPOLIS -- Nate Mason had 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and Jordan Murphy added 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Minnesota Gophers in an 81-71 win over Penn State on Saturday.

Dupree McBrayer added 15 points off the bench for Minnesota (22-7, 10-6 Big Ten) with Akeem Springs scoring 12. Reggie Lynch had nine points and set a career-high with 11 blocks as the Gophers won their seventh game in a row and avenged an earlier loss at Penn State.

Tony Carr had 20 points and seven assists, while Shep Garner scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Nittany Lions, who have lost three straight. Penn State had just five turnovers, all in the first half, but shot 35.5 percent.

Excluding the vacated season of 1996-97, Minnesota has won seven games in a row for the first time since 1978 (see full recap).

Delaware demolished in regular season finale at Elon
ELON, N.C. -- Dmitri Thompson scored 22 points and Elon's bench almost matched Delaware's total in an 81-59 Colonial Athletic Association victory in Saturday night's regular season finale.

Elon got 58 of its 81 points from its bench, led by Thompson, who hit 7 of 12 from the field and 7 of 8 from the line. Dainan Swoope contributed 14 points off the bench. No Elon starter scored in double figures.

Elon (18-13, 10-8) finishes tied with William & Mary for fourth place in conference.

Delaware (12-19, 5-13) finishes ninth in the 10-team conference.

Elon outscored the Blue Hens by 11 points in each half, building a 40-29 advantage at halftime.

Overall the Phoenix shot 45.1 percent from the field (23 of 51), including 10 of 29 from long range, and 25 of 36 from the free-throw line.

Ryan Daly finished with 18 points and nine rebounds to lead Delaware. Eric Carter added 12 points with eight boards (see full recap).