Dragons can't hold a last-minute lead

Posted: November 28, 2006

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. — A game the Drexel basketball team appeared to be on the verge of winning got away from the Dragons last night in overtime at Rider University's Alumni Gym.

A pair of turnovers by Drexel on its first two possessions of the extra session gave the Broncs a chance to go ahead, and the hosts finished the job to register an 89-81 victory before a crowd of 1,528.

Drexel had a 75-70 lead with less than a minute to play in regulation time, but Rider knotted the score at 75-75 with six seconds left when freshman guard Ryan Thompson hit from deep on the left wing.

A shot from afar by Drexel's Bashir Mason was off, and an extra period became necessary.

"We played with no discipline at the end of the game," Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said. "All you have to do is the simple things to win, and we didn't. Bottom line: They took it from us."

Drexel, which hadn't played since losing by 68-49 at Penn last Tuesday, dropped to 2-2. Rider (4-1) tied the series between the teams at 26-26.

Rider's only loss was to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, a Division I newcomer.

Among the players on the Broncs' roster are 6-foot-8 forward Joel Green (St. John Neumann), 6-2 guard Kevin Hickman (Wilmington Christian), 6-3 guard Harris Mansell (Cheltenham), and a pair of brothers from Lenape High in 6-10 forward Jason Thompson and 6-5 guard Ryan Thompson.

"I'm a South Jersey guy, and I have a lot of friends and family in Philadelphia," Jason Thompson said. "I know several of [Drexel's] guys, and this is a good New Jersey-Philadelphia rivalry."

Both Thompsons, Green and Mansell started last night for Rider's second-year head coach, Tommy Dempsey.

Jason Thompson, who finished with 24 points and 11 rebounds, topped five Broncs in double figures. His two free throws at the beginning of overtime put Rider ahead to stay.

Ryan Thompson, who finished with 16 points, scored six in a row to put his team up by 85-79 with 1:41 left in the game.

"I'm very proud of our effort, and it was a very well-played game overall," Dempsey said. "We played well against a very good team."

Ryan Thompson's assignment at the outset was to stick with Drexel guard Dominick Mejia, who set a team record with 92 three-point baskets last season.

With Thompson watching him closely, Mejia was able to squeeze off only one shot before leaving the game for a rest with less than 14 minutes remaining in the first half.

Although Rider was good on its first four shots, the game was tied at 14-14 after reserve guard Tramayne Hawthorne sank a layup off the break for Drexel.

Later, after Mason went hard to the hoop for a bank shot, the 6-foot senior scored again right away when he got to the basket in transition and gave Drexel a 24-19 advantage. The Dragons led by 37-32 at the half.

Mason led the Dragons in scoring with 26 points. Chaz Crawford and Frank Elegar contributed 13 apiece. Mejia shot just 1 for 5 from the field and finished with two points in 22 minutes.

Contact staff writer Kevin Tatum at 215-854-2583 or ktatum@phillynews.com.

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