Final Score: Hofstra 69, Drexel 61
Drexel Player of the Game: Kazembe Abif
Key to the Game: Missed Opportunities
Next Game: Saturday Jan 16, @ Towson
Coming into this game, it appeared to be an absolute mismatch on paper, with Hofstra's offense being an absolute wrecking ball so far this season, going against a Drexel team that has not only struggled to defend opposing teams, but also being unable to put up significant points on their own. The Dragons had shown promise the past few games, putting up over 1 point per possession, but this game was far from the offensive showcase it was expecting to be.
In a game that saw 76 possessions per team, only 130 total points were put up, a paltry 0.85 points per possession, a rate which would be bottom 10 nationally for a team. Due to both teams offensive struggles, Hofstra was never able to pull away from Drexel, and Drexel was never able to mount a significant comeback. This led to a game that was within a few possessions cover to cover, with Drexel actually taking a lead 56-54 late in the second half. Hofstra then went on a quick 10-0 run which sealed the game for the Pride.
As we have seen with this Drexel team throughout this season, late game situations have proven to be a trouble area. Multiple times from the U-4 timeout, there were botched inbounds plays leading to untimely turnovers, poor shot selection (aka mid range jumpers) leading to easy transition buckets, and telegraphing passes leading to easy steals and even more transition baskets.
The gameplan going into this should have been to keep Hofstra off the perimeter, and maintain focus in the paint to prevent easy cutting layups and keep Hofstra off the free throw line. Drexel did manage to do at least 1 of those, holding Hofstra to 3-18 shooting on 3 pointers, well below their season average. However, sloppy defense on penetration in the lane led to fouls and easy and-1 opportunities. Hofstra shot 28 FTs compared to Drexel's 6, due to their ability to drive the lane and aggressively finish at the rim.
If you had said before the game that the Drexel defense would hold Hofstra to 0.91 points per possession, many would have assumed that the Dragons had won, or be in a position to win the game. Unfortunately, the Dragons countered the Pride's offensive performance shooting 40% inside the arc and 25% from 3.
One positive takeaway was the Dragons once again showing willingness to involve the forwards in the offense. This has exposed a weakness in the offensive game, though, the lack of a true outside threat. Without a legitimate 3 point shooter, defenses can easily clog the paint when Drexel passes inside and stifle the forwards. More consistent shooting from outside can stretch the defense out to the 3 point line, opening things up for the forwards, significantly improving the offensive efficiency.
At the end of the day, while the team does show signs of improving, and the talent is there, execution and preparation continue to rear its ugly head in clutch situations, leading to many close losses. (10 of Drexel's 13 losses have been by single digits) With another game in the books, we look towards Towson on Saturday and hope to gain some momentum for the rest of the season.