The Drexel Dragons were the preseason pick to not only repeat as CAA regular season champions, but to also be a team that few teams would want to draw as their opposition in the NCAA tournament.
But the Dragons have gotten off to a slow start of sorts, losing their first two games of the season before holding off Penn on Saturday afternoon by the final score of 61-59.
The win may have come at a cost for Bruiser Flint’s squad however, as shooting guard Chris Fouch was lost early in the second half with an ankle injury.
No word yet as to how long Fouch could be out (he left The Palestra on crutches according to reports), but if there’s to be a silver lining in this cloud it would have to be the play of freshman forward Tavon Allen.
Allen, who saw his first action of the season on Saturday, scored all 15 of his points in the second half while also accounting for four steals and three rebounds.
With Fouch down and the Dragons also without the services of sophomore wing Damion Lee (concussion), someone needed to step up. That someone was Allen.
“I’ve been telling him that his opportunity is going to be there for him and he’s gotta take advantage of it,” Dragons coach Bruiser Flint said of Allen’s performance. “And he did tonight. He was a little nervous out there in the beginning, but in the second half he settled down.”
Drexel led 60-53 with 57 seconds remaining after a pair of Derrick Thomas free throws, only to have the Quakers score the next six points within 33 seconds to cut the margin to just a single point.
But Penn was unable to get a shot at either the tie or the win after a Frantz Massenat free throw, and they drop to 1-3 on the season as a result. Fran Dougherty led Penn with 21 points and ten rebounds.
The biggest question that comes out of the “Battle of 33rd Street” is what the Dragons will do if Fouch has to miss time. Conceivably Lee will be back from his concussion and that would help matters, but keep an eye on Allen these next few weeks.
If the redshirt freshman can build on Saturday’s performance, Drexel would have another piece at their disposal in the quest for a ticket to the NCAA tournament.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.