Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
The return of Damion Lee couldn’t have come soon enough for Drexel.
Lee contributed 10 big points off the bench, adding some much-needed depth in a 59-48 win at William & Mary on Saturday.
Drexel (6-11, 2-3 CAA) led wire-to-wire for just their second double-digit victory of a season that’s been much more of a struggle than expected, in no small part due to injuries. Usual starting forward Daryl McCoy missed his second consecutive game with a foot injury that he’s been battling for several weeks, and senior Chris Fouch has been out since Nov. 17 with a broken foot that will sideline him for the rest of the year.
Getting Lee back was especially critical, however, as the 6-6 sophomore wing was second in the league in scoring (18.1 ppg) coming into the game. Without him, the Dragon offense relied too heavily on point guard Frantz Massenat, who was averaging 18.5 ppg over the team’s last four games but rarely had someone helping to pick up the slack.
Massenat had 19 points to pace Drexel, which got back to its strong defensive habits in holding W&M (7-10, 1-5 CAA) to 32.7 percent (16-of-49) shooting. Massenat’s 7-of-14 night helped his team to a 42.9 percent (21-of-49) performance, including 8-of-19 (42.1 percent) from three.
The Dragons also won the rebound battle, 35-23, thanks to a season-high-tying 11 rebounds from junior forward Dartaye Ruffin.
William & Mary had double-digit scoring performances from three players, but just two points combined from the other six members of their rotation. Tim Rusthoven had 19 points to pace the Tribe, while Marcus Thornton added 14 and Brandon Britt had 13.
The preseason league favorites, Drexel had lost its last three games and was in desperate need of some positive momentum.
The Tribe stayed within five points of the Dragons for the vast majority of the first half, until a Lee 3-pointer with seven seconds remaining made it a 32-24 Drexel lead at the break.
William & Mary got within six points early in the second half but Drexel led by double-digits for much of the closing 20 minutes. The advantage grew to its largest of 16 points at 50-34 with 6:59 remaining, and the home team would never really threaten.