Drexel Is Eliminated By Hofstra

Posted: March 05, 1989

TOWSON, Md. — Drexel forward John Rankin had the right idea in the Dragons' first-round East Coast Conference tournament game against Hofstra. The Dutchmen have been flying high of late, and Rankin knew that Drexel had to draw first blood and shake Hofstra's confidence.

Instead, it was Rankin who admittedly had a shaky start, as the Dragons fell to Butch van Breda Kolff's Flying Dutchmen, 79-73, at Towson State. Drexel's season is over and Hofstra plays top-seeded Bucknell in the first tournament semifinal game today, while Towson plays Lafayette in the other second-round contest. The tourney winner gets a bid to the NCAA tournament.

Rankin, second on Drexel's all-time scoring list, ended his brilliant

college career with a team-high 23 points, but it came on 7-for-16 shooting

from the floor. The ECC first-team selection was hardly alone in that category, though. As a team, the Dragons shot 38.6 percent, with Todd Lehmann, the league's third-highest scorer, struggling through a 2-for-13 afternoon

from the field on his way to 16 points.

Coming into yesterday's game, Drexel (12-16) had lost five of its last six. Hofstra (14-14) had won six of its last seven. It was clear that the Dragons had to assert themselves early to keep the Dutchmen from going on a roll, but Drexel came out sputtering.

"I take a large responsibility for that," an emotional Rankin said after the game. "I wanted to get it going so much, I forced maybe the first four or five shots. No one really expected them, and it was out of the offense and we weren't in good rebounding position. Hofstra capitalized on it, and we dug a hole too deep for ourselves and just couldn't get out of it."

After Rankin's first field goal of the day gave the Dragons a 9-8 lead, Hofstra guard Carlos DiCenta spearheaded a nine-point run, and the Dutchmen would never trail again.

After taking a 37-32 lead into the locker room, Hofstra cracked the game open with a 16-2 run midway through the second half and took a 69-51 lead. Drexel threatened to make a game of it with its own 12-point binge that closed the gap to 71-65 with 1 minute, 31 seconds left, but 6-for-6 foul shooting by Dutchmen forward Jim Shanahan down the stretch sealed the win for Hofstra.

The difference in yesterday's game, though, was DiCenta, who scored a game- high 25 points, including four three-pointers. DiCenta had missed the first regular-season game against Drexel, a Dragons win, with a dislocated finger and was held to five points in the rematch, a Hofstra victory.

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