Drexel, which had a 13-point lead in the first half and which led by nine,
69-60, with 6 minutes, 30 seconds left, saw the Flying Dutchmen tie the game at 74-74 with 1:46 left on a 15-foot jump shot by Luke Murphy.
But the Dragons (19-11) regained the lead 14 seconds later on a free throw by forward Pat Rafferty. Murphy, who had a team-high 18 points, missed from 16 feet on Hofstra's next trip down the court. Drexel center John Rankin and Anderson latched onto the rebound, with Anderson being sent to the foul line.
Anderson made two free throws with 59 seconds left. However, Hofstra's Leroy Allen drove the baseline, deposited a shot, was fouled and went to the line with a chance to tie.
It never happened. The ball came off the rim, and Drexel's Walt Fuller grabbed the rebound and got the ball to Stribling, who was fouled with 26 seconds left.
Hofstra coach Dick Berg wasn't going to make things easy. He called a timeout, then made what was an illegal substitution, pulling Murphy, then reinserting him before time was back in.
It took the officials a good 2 minutes to straighten things out. Stribling made the first free throw but missed the second, and Drexel's lead was 78-76.
Hofstra went for the penetration move. Guard Greg Arnold got off a 12- footer that hit the rim and bounced into the hands of the skying Anderson (21 points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals).
Anderson deposited the two foul shots and Drexel was in the NCAA tournament.
"It (the final minutes) wasn't pretty," Burke said. "But neither am I, but I'm happy."
Drexel was staggering in the final minutes (as it had in blowing a 12-point lead and losing to the Flying Dutchmen earlier in the season). The Dragons had a 74-68 lead with 3:26 to play but took a bad shot and committed two turnovers that led to six straight Hofstra points.
"I think we were too anxious to catch the carrot," Burke said.
"I was praying," said Fuller, a senior guard, who hit some key shots for the Dragons. "I was thinking, 'Please, I've waited too long for this.' "
The waiting wasn't in vain. "I guess we had to make things exciting," Fuller said. "But whatever has happened in the past has been worthwhile. I don't care who we play in the NCAA tournament. When I walk out there, I will be loving it."
Burke, who has taken his teams to such no-win places as Wake Forest, Tulsa, Southwest Louisiana, Alabama-Birmingham, Denver, Dayton, and to Southern California in hopes of getting some recognition, also said he couldn't care less about his first-round opponent.
"It will be better than going to somewhere like Tulsa and getting
whacked," he said.
And a heck of a lot more lucrative, too. The Dragons will receive at least $165,000 for their first-round game in the NCAA.
Berg said he thought Drexel would be a good representative of the league.
He also was more resigned than unhappy about last night's loss. "We got beat by a very good team that hit the key shots and made the foul shots when they had to," Berg said. "We gave a good team too much of a lead."
It took a strong Drexel stretch run to get the Dragons to the NCAA tournament. Their win last night was their eighth straight and the 14th in their last 15 games. It ran their win total to 19, tying their best-ever Division I victory total.
Burke was reaching for words when it was over. Forgotten for the moment was that the Dragons have been Philadelphia's orphan, an afterthought to the Big 5 throughout their history.
"I'm not thinking about all that," the Drexel coach said. "I'm just too happy right now. When you reach a goal like this in life, it is just gratifying. But just think of it: Somebody's going to reach into a hat, pull out a slip (in the NCAA pool) and say, 'Damn, I got Drexel.' "