March Madness: Drexel fairytale comes to a heartbreaking end in first-round loss

Indianapolis, IN: The best sporting event of the year has arrived. March Madness is here and the opening day of the NCAA Tournament saw the Drexel Dragons take on Illinois in the First round from the Indiana Farmers Coliseum. Drexel headed their first NCAA Tournament for the 1st time since 1996 and made the big dance by winning the CAA Tournament.

How the game went:

One of the talking points coming into this game was whether the Dragons handle the speed and the defense of Illinois. At one point Illinois had a 17-8 lead. Drexel kept things game close but their 24% shooting let them down, leading to an 18 point deficit at the half.

Strong defense by Illinois only made things tougher for the Dragons, who comfortably extended their lead and sat on it for the remainder of the game, winning 78-49. Illinois dominated the points in the paint by putting up 58 while Drexel had 16.

This was a magical ride for Drexel that no one saw coming after winning their conference tournament and missing half of their games due to COVID19. This is a very good learning experience for the Dragons and something to build off for next year.

Postgame:

Drexel Coach Zach Spiker on what he can take away from this season:

I think the biggest thing is we went to the NCAA tournament at Drexel University for the first time in 25 years. It was a heck of a run by our players. The effort that they gave in the CAA tournament, the effort they gave in the final regular-season game against James Madison, to put us in position to be a 6 seed, that was an incredible time for our players, their preparations and their execution. We’ll look back on those days very fondly about what we were able to accomplish. Certainly hopeful. Had a great week. Great experience. Certainly didn’t expect this type of result. They’re really good, but I think if you walk around and say they’re good, you don’t give yourself a chance. We just wanted to fight and put ourselves in position.

Final Stats:

Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire

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