WILLIAMSBURG – After several years of offensive anguish at Kaplan Arena, Drexel coach Bruiser Flint figured the old barn owed him one. Or maybe he simply has a team that's increasingly cohesive at both ends of the floor.
Patient and efficient on offense, while typically stingy on defense, the Dragons took down William and Mary 64-48 Monday at the midpoint of both the CAA season and the entire conference's current 12-day grind.
"We talked about how we never shot the ball well down here," Flint said after the Dragons snapped a five-game losing streak at Kaplan. "But the key to us down here is to keep them off the foul line. One of the reasons why we can't win down here is we're always in foul trouble."
This time, the Dragons (15-5, 7-2 CAA) stayed out of foul trouble while still limiting the Tribe to 35.8-percent shooting and just seven free throw attempts. At the other end, Drexel backed up Saturday's 60-percent shooting effort against Northeastern with a 50-percent show Monday for its 13th win in the past 14 games.
"We didn't get called for bumps," Flint said. "The referees let both teams bump each other. ... That's why they only shot seven foul shots. The referee (said), 'Both teams play through the bumps.' That was it right there. That's the way the game was played."
Tribe freshman Marcus Thornton (18 points) played confidently and fearlessly, and sophomore big man Tim Rusthoven (6-for-9, 12 points) logged his third consecutive double-figure outing. But W&M's 48 points were its third-lowest of the season and lowest since an early December, 34-point meltdown at Georgia State.
"Offensively, I'll credit their defense for some of it, but we missed a lot of open shots," Tribe coach Tony Shaver said. "We've got to make those shots against teams like this. Tonight, they weren't going in, and most of them were pretty doggone good shots.
"I think they physically wore us out, too. They really did. They're a powerful basketball team."
Sophomore big man Dartaye Ruffin played the role of offensive touchstone for the Dragons with a career-high 18 points, and he made all eight of his free throws. He entered Monday averaging 4.9 points per game and shooting 54 percent from the foul line.
"I don't think we had a whole lot about him on the scouting report," Thornton said. "He definitely played well tonight."
Freshman Damion Lee added 17 points and filled up the stat sheet with six rebounds, an assist, a steal and two of the Dragons' 11 blocked shots. Drexel hadn't shot above 39 percent in any of its previous five losses at William and Mary.
"They've always been powerful inside," Shaver said. "They've always been disciplined at running their stuff through. But they've got shotmakers right now, too."
Drexel gained some separation at the end of the first half with a late 10-4 run, capped by a long Frantz Massenat trey at the buzzer for a 30-21 lead.
Thornton's 3-pointer early in the second half got the Tribe within 34-27, but Lee and Massenat scored Drexel's next 12 points to open a 46-29 lead at the 12:39 mark. W&M never got closer than 12 points thereafter.
Leading scorer Quinn McDowell (7 points) missed his first eight shots and didn't score until an offensive rebound bucket with 10:40 remaining. Other than Rusthoven and Thornton, the rest of the team shot 6-for-26 from the field.
Unlike the first part of Saturday's 68-66 loss against UNC Wilmington, effort wasn't an issue. Again, results lacked.
"We had our moments," Rusthoven said. "I think there were times we played really well and there's times we slipped up, just like in any game. But I think we came out and played hard. That's probably one of the hardest (games) we've played all year. But we've got to stay sharp and not make mistakes."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun