Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
In their third game of the year, the swagger of the mid-major darling Drexel Dragons (and their entire season) was waning. But their offense found its legs in the second half to overcome Penn's potent scorers and score their first 'W' of the year.
After the streamers settled and the red and yellow crowds had poured out of the Palestra, the Battle of 33rd gave the Drexel Dragons their first win of the season over the Penn Quakers in a basketball extravaganza, 61-59.
The Dragons are still a long way from where they were expected to be at this point in the season, and they're going to have a tough road ahead. The team lost Damion Lee (concussion) in Thursday's loss to Illinois State and now team leader Chris Fouch could miss time with an ankle injury.
Potential hardships aside, they came away from Saturday evening's showdown at Penn with their first priority accomplished: win a game.
It took a few unexpected sources of offense to get the Dragons off the ground. As Frantz Massenat continued his curiously slow start to the season, big man Dartaye Ruffin -- typically just a rebound machine -- found his post game working wonders against Penn's Fran Dougherty.
Ruffin finished with 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting and grabbed seven boards to go along with fellow big man Daryl McCoy's game-high 14 rebounds as Drexel used a disparity in the glass game to their advantage.
For Penn, the loss drops them to 1-3, and was the third in a row after beginning its season with a win against Maryland-Baltimore County.
Dougherty fought hard to keep the Quakers in contention throughout the match, snagging 10 rebounds and scoring 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
But even as the one-two punch of Dougherty and Miles Cartwright (18 points with 9-of-9 foul shooting) built Penn a seven-point lead with 11:30 left in the game, the rest of the offense refused to help the cornerstones out. Their fellow Quakers combined to go 8-of-23 from the field in the game, and the offense -- too centered around two players -- was bound to fail eventually.
Meanwhile, Drexel continued to get more offense from the nooks and crannies of their team.
Freshman Tavon Allen, who saw the first playing time of his career in the absence of Lee, led the charge back for the Dragons, dropping eight points in a little more than a minute's time.
And after hitting two foul shots, Allen then put up a shot that Daryl McCoy tipped in to tie the game at 49. The frosh's offensive explosion sparked a 16-4 run that essentially gave the Dragons the lead for good as they staved off a last-ditch effort from the Quakers.