RICHMOND, VA (caa.com) – Drexel went in front to stay during a 10-4 scoring run to close the first half and controlled play for most of the final period to post a 59-47 victory over UNCW in the opening quarterfinal game of the Virginia 529 Colonial Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Championship Saturday at the Richmond Coliseum.
The top-seeded Dragons (26-5) advance to a 2 p.m. Sunday tournament semifinal meeting against the winner of the second quarterfinal game, either fourth-seeded Old Dominion or fifth-seeded Delaware. UNCW, the tournament’s ninth seed, fell to 10-21.
The lead changed hands five times before Chris Fouch, Drexel’s top scorer with 14 points, put his team in front to stay 19-18 on a driving shot from the lane. The Dragons raised the margin to 27-22 by halftime and dominated play in the lanes while pulling away early during the second half.
Drexel increased a 35-28 lead to 45-30 with 12 minutes to play and to 51-33 by the 9:50 mark of the final half. UNCW rallied to within 57-47 with 2:11 left but didn’t score again, committing a turnover and missing on each of its three field goal attempts the rest of the way.
Drexel, which won its first regular-season CAA title, was out-rebounded 19-12 during the opening half but finished the game with a 35-32 rebounding advantage. The Dragons for the game also had a 34-8 edge in points in the paint and an 18-0 advantage in second-chance points and committed but six turnovers. They shot 44 percent (23-52) from the field, including 48 percent (12-25) during the final half.
UNCW, which scored almost exclusively from the paint or the foul line during a first-round victory over James Madison, connected on six of 13 three-point shots but attempted only eight free throws and turned the ball over 11 times. The Seahawks shot 35 percent (17-49) overall from the field and only 27 percent during the final half (7-26) after connecting on six of their first eight attempts of the game.
Fouch had 12 first-half points and was among four Dragons to reach double figures in scoring. Samme Givens, a second-team all-league honoree, had 11 points, including three field goals midway through the final half; Frantz Massenat, a first-team all-conference choice, had 11 points and four assists; and Damion Lee, the league rookie of the year, scored 10 points and had five rebounds.
Donte Morales led UNCW with 13 points and nine rebounds. Tanner Milson added 11 and Keith Rendleman 10. Rendleman, a junior forward, reached the 1,000-point career scoring plateau during the game but was held without a rebound after averaging 10.5 rebounds per game and having 16 double-figure rebounding efforts during the regular season.
Drexel’s appearance in the tournament CAA semifinals will be the Dragons’ first since 2007 and their third overall since joining the conference for the 2001-02 season.