NEWARK, Del. – After Drexel sharply cut into a 16-point deficit against Delaware Thursday night, and had two chances to tie the game in the final minute, the last words that Dragons coach Zach Spiker wanted to hear was "nice comeback."
"Nice comeback?" he said in a somewhat scornful tone. "We didn't finish."
The Dragons fought to the wire but lost, 72-66, to the Blue Hens in a CAA game at the Bob Carpenter Center. They placed four players in double figures, including 14 points, 15 rebounds and 4 assists from Tramaine Isabell.
Their defense, which got scorched in the second half when Delaware (10-8, 3-2 CAA) made 14 of its first 19 shots in taking a 66-50 lead with 7 minutes, 7 seconds to play, tightened up at crunch time, limiting the Blue Hens without a basket for the final 5:26.
Drexel (7-11, 1-4) also capitalized on its opponent's inability to convert the front ends of two one-and-one situations. Sammy Mojica followed the second with a three-point basket. Isabell hit a drive in the lane on the next trip, and the Dragons suddenly were a possession away at 69-66 with 1:18 to play.
But then the shots stopped falling for the visitors, who were just 5 of 25 from beyond the arc. Isabell missed a three, Kurk Lee misfired from distance, and Isabell missed yet again, and that was it. Delaware's Ryan Daly sealed the win with a pair of free throws
"I don't know that we ran out of gas," Spiker said. "I think we ran out of time. I think if we played hard, we could have done something there."
Spiker wasn't happy with his team's slow start, which saw the Dragons down, 21-12, midway through the first half, and the fact that they took some wild shots challenging the Blue Hens inside.
"I thought they worked harder to get better looks than we got," he said. "We had a couple of one- or no-pass possessions and then they scored. That's where the gap came. We can be better."
Spiker was pleased with the defense of Mojica on Daly, Delaware's top scorer with a 17.6-point average entering the game. Daly, a 6-foot-5 sophomore from Archbishop Carroll, shot just 4 of 16 from the floor and scored 13 points.
"Sammy Mojica is so undervalued and unsung in what he does," Spiker said. "The value he brings to our program cannot be measured on the stat sheet."
Eli Carter led Delaware with 17 points and 13 rebounds.