PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/11-2016 – The Drexel Dragons got another chance to play another Big Five team on the DAC floor. Saint Joseph’s got a chance to end their four game losing streak. It took until the last second to decide, but in the end a traditional three-point play by Saint Joseph’s guard Shavar Newkirk gave the Hawks a 72 – 71 win over the Drexel Dragons ending the winless stretch.
The Dragons had a 71 – 67 lead with just over two minutes remaining. Newkirk would score the last five points of the game. His two free throws with 1:50 to play got the Hawks to within two. Drexel turned the ball over on a shot clock violation. On the next possession Saint Joe’s got the ball to Newkirk who saw an opening and drove to the basket. He made the layup and was fouled with 10.4 seconds on the clock. The foul shot added some drama as the ball hit the rim, bounced high in the air and down through the net.
“That’s what opened up,” said Newkirk about the game-winning play. “They were playing Charlie (Brown) for the three and that’s what opened it up for me.”
The game was far from over. Drexel came down the floor. Guard Kurk Lee took a three-pointer that Saint Joseph’s forward Javon Baumann blocked. The Dragons had one more look, but another three-pointer, this by one guard Kari Jonsson, was ticked by Hawk forward Nick Robinson and fell short.
For most of the game Drexel was in the lead. Saint Joe’s finally went ahead midway through the second half at 54 – 52 at the 9:51 mark. The game turned back in the direction of the Dragons until the end.
While the Hawks (4 – 4) were resilient enough to stay in contention, a lack of urgency throughout was apparent according to SJU Coach Phil Martelli.
“We’re not as fervent about every play,” Martelli said. “You see urgency at the end, but we played too many plays with ‘let me play’ not fiercely compete.”
“I thought we needed a spark, and as a team leader I could supply that,” Newkirk said.
Newkirk finished the game with 27 points, one shy of his career-best. The junior tied a career-mark with 7 rebounds and he dished out 4 assists, all team-highs. Newkirk scored the last 11 points for Saint Joseph’s. Fellow guard Lamarr Kimble added 16 points.
Drexel forward Rodney Williams set a career-high with 29 points and added 10 rebounds for the 6th double-double of his career.
“That is what Rodney is capable of,” said Drexel Coach Zach Spiker. “We need that more often than not. He did a lot of good things.”
Freshman guard Kurk Lee scored 16 points and had a game-high 6 assists.
It was a foul-filled game as there were a total of 49 fouls called. SJU made 19 of 30 from the line (63.3%) while the Dragons made 16 of 25 from the line (64%).
Drexel (4 – 5) played Big Five team La Salle earlier this season and lost by 12. They were closer this time, but the next city win at home will have to wait a little longer.
“No one should leave this locker room feeling good because we played Saint Joe’s close,” Spiker said. “Everybody could have made one or two more plays.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian