Towson State didn't feel the absence of senior guard Scooter Alexander in last week's victory over New Hampshire, but it became more pronounced against the best team in the North Atlantic Conference.
With Alexander sitting on the bench in street clothes last night, the Tigers could only paw at Drexel, never posing a threat in a 75-56 loss at the Towson Center.
A sprained ankle that Alexander suffered late in a nine-point loss to Drexel on Feb. 7 kept him from playing against New Hampshire. A personal problem that forced him to miss practice all week kept the former Dunbar star from facing the Dragons (18-3, 14-1), who are assured of the No. 1 seed in the NAC tournament.
This has been a rocky stretch for Alexander (11.7 ppg), who missed a practice last month and didn't start in an 83-63 loss to Hofstra on Jan. 23. Then came the injury, and a career-low two points against Maine last Sunday.
This isn't what coach Terry Truax envisioned when Alexander returned after being redshirted last season. And it surely isn't what he had in mind for his team with the NAC tournament approaching.
"I haven't had any communication with Scooter over the last few days, and my policy is if you don't practice, you don't play," he said, adding that Alexander will make the trip to Hofstra for tomorrow's game, but probably will not play.
"Our team has proven it's resilient, but there are just too many distractions," said Truax. "When you get this far into the season, you should be going in the other direction. You should have total focus -- keep your eyes on the prize. We're just struggling to get everybody at practice and going in the same direction."
Truax was down to 10 players last night. Sophomore forward Derrick Earl had been experiencing chest pains, and though he was cleared to participate last night, Truax held him out.
Being short-handed against Drexel isn't advisable. The Dragons, winners of seven in a row and 15 of 16, have the 10th-best winning percentage (.802) among Division I schools over the past three seasons. And they looked the part of a NAC giant against Towson State (14-9, 10-5), leading from the opening seconds and building an 18-point advantage by halftime.
Junior guard Jeff Myers, with 24 points, usually was the one igniting the Dragons. Senior center Malik Rose added 13 points.
Senior Ralph Blalock led Towson State with 14 points.
Drexel was ahead by 20 points in the first minute of the second half. Towson State got the margin down to 12 with 10:39 left and had the ball, but a turnover led to a breakaway layup by Cornelius Overby and an intentional foul on the Tigers' Quintin Moody. Overby made one free throw, then hit a three-pointer, and the Dragons were back in business.
DREXEL -- Overby 3-4 4-5 11, Guittar 4-10 0-0 9, Rose 4-10 5-5 13, DeRocckis 4-7 1-2 12, Myers 11-17 1-1 24, Ross 0-1 0-0 0, Frey 0-0 0-0 0, Hudgins 1-3 0-0 2, Riley 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 29-55 11-13 75.
TOWSON STATE -- Biggs 0-4 0-0 0, Thomas 4-11 0-0 8, Dellinger 4-8 0-0 8, Blalock 6-17 1-1 14, Keyes 5-9 0-0 10, Robinson 5-10 0-0 10, Schneider 0-0 1-2 1, Moody 0-2 0-0 0, Lexer 1-7 2-2 5. Totals 25-68 4-5 56.
Halftime--Drexel 44-26. 3-point goals--d 6-13 (DeRocckis 3-5, Overby 1-2, Myers 1-4, Guittar 1-1, Ross 0-1); TS 2-10 (Blalock 1-5, Lexer 1-1, Keyes 0-2, Robinson 0-1, Moody 0-1). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--D 33 (Rose 10); TS 38 (Thomas 10). Assists--D 15 (Guittar 4); TS 9 (Thomas, Keyes 2). Total fouls--D 13, TS 14. Technical--Robinson. A--1,950.