Massenat can't repeat miracle in Drexel's loss to Delaware

Massenat can't repeat miracle in Drexel's loss to Delaware
January 28, 2013, 11:45 pm
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BOX SCORE

Down by two with 2.6 seconds to go, Drexel’s Frantz Massenat readied for the inbounds pass. Just five days ago, Massenat made a 50-foot buzzer-beater on the road to down Hofstra. On Monday at home against Delaware, he got the exact same shot.

“I mean, come on, you can’t make two of those shots in a week … can you?” Delaware head coach Monte Ross asked after the game.

Massenat couldn’t. This time, the 50-footer was right on line but a few feet short. Drexel lost the thriller, 66-64, despite a 15-2 game-ending run in which Delaware tried as hard as it could to give the lead away (see Instant Replay).

“I told my team, I said, ‘Honestly, they panicked and tried to give us the game,’” Drexel coach Bruiser Flint admitted after the game. “It wasn’t anything that we did. They panicked. They’re the best foul-shooting team in the league, and they missed their foul shots. It had nothing to do with us.”

The Blue Hens led by 15 with 4:22 to play, but that’s when Damion Lee woke up. The Drexel sophomore scored seven straight points to cut Delaware’s lead to six with just under three minutes to play. But after a Delaware timeout, Lee picked up his fifth foul far, far away from the basket on a play few fans, players or even Flint saw.

“That foul call … it was heartbreaking,” said Lee, who scored a career-high 30 points.

“[The referee] said [Lee] held him,” Flint added. “I didn’t see it. I just heard the whistle blow, and then [the ref] said he was out of the game.

“I’ll be honest with you, though. The referee is supposed to know the time and score. I think John Gaffney is a good ref. But unless he bear-hugged him, how are you gonna call a foul on that? I don’t even think the kid was going toward the basket or anything, I think they were getting ready to set up for a play.”

It’s been that kind of season for Flint’s Dragons, who have lost by five or fewer points six times already this season. Those near-misses account for half of Drexel’s loss total, and through 20 games Flint sees a team that still can’t consistently execute when it’s one shot away from victory.

“It’s just our luck,” Flint began. “We’ve had six games like that. We have 12 losses – at least six of them came to a one-point game, a minute to go or 30 seconds to go, last shot, we miss it. But we’ve played so bad and still had a chance to win.

“We’ve had six or seven games like that. All year. All year. It keeps happening. We’ve got to make a play at the end of the game. It’s too late to be building. Either you’re going to come and do it, or you’re not.”

The Dragons (8-12, 4-4 CAA) wouldn’t have needed late heroics if they didn’t start off so poorly. Delaware opened up a 16-point lead midway through the first half, and for 17 of the 40 minutes the Blue Hens led by at least 10 points. Drexel, and Massenat in particular, had a bad shooting night. The point guard was 4 for 19, and is 10 for 38 (26 percent) in his last three games.

But another key was Delaware’s advantage on the boards. You’d think that meant a monster game from the third-leading rebounder in the country, Jamelle Hagins, but that wasn’t the case. It was little-used junior Carl Baptiste who used his thick, 6-foot-9 frame to pull down a career-high 13 rebounds. Ross actually expected Hagins to be quiet on the glass. It was the way he drew it up.

“We needed our big guys to box out [Dartaye] Ruffin, box out [Daryl] McCoy,” Ross said. “We knew we needed our guards to rebound.”

And rebound they did. Jarvis Threatt, Devon Saddler and Kyle Anderson – all known much more for their shooting than their dirty work down low – combined for 19 rebounds. Drexel’s starting backcourt accounted for eight.

“I always say this, I always say when those guys (Delaware) play us, they bring the fight to us,” Flint said. “They always have. I don’t care how their record has been. It’s always been the case. I told our guys we don’t match the intensity of Delaware. And we didn’t again today.”

Still, despite shooting 34 percent and losing the rebound battle by nine, Drexel had not one, two or three, but four chances to win at the end. On the series prior to Massenat’s unsuccessful heave, he missed two shots and McCoy missed an easy put-back with Drexel down a point.

“We had two shots at it and we threw two bricks at the basket,” Flint said. “That’s how we’ve played all year. We’ve had a lot of games like that. A lot of games.”

Alas, Flint was resigned to Drexel’s fate Monday night and was able to joke about it with Ross, a close friend, after the game.

“Bruiser said at the end, ‘You tried to give us one, huh?’” Ross said.

Ross was just thankful his words didn’t jinx Delaware, which improved to 9-11 and 4-3 in the CAA.

“I probably shouldn’t have said this,” Ross admitted. “I said to our guys, look, Frantz is not going to hit a 50-footer against us. I probably shouldn’t have said that. It was putting bad karma in the air. I was right behind him. That thing was on line, just a couple feet short.”

A Couple Feet Short. Works as the tag-line for Drexel’s first 20 games.