With 2 minutes 30 seconds left in the first half Thursday night in Philadelphia, the Delaware men’s basketball team led Drexel by 34 points. At halftime, the Blue Hens’ lead was 27. They had made 10 of 16 three-point attempts by the break and gone on runs of 18-0 and 11-4. Any sane person would have thought the second half would be a mere formality, which of course it wasn’t.
Drexel staged a ludicrous comeback — at 34 points the biggest in Division I men’s basketball history — and shocked Delaware with an 85-83 win. Duke held the previous record with a 32-point comeback against Tulane in 1950.
“Our approach at halftime was, let’s make it happen,” Drexel Coach Zach Spiker told ESPN after the game. “Look, this has a chance to be the craziest comeback, a perfect storm. We turned it over, we came out soft. The opposite happened in the second half.”
After Delaware’s Eric Carter scored the first two points of the second half to increase the Blue Hens’ lead to 29, Drexel went on an 18-4 run to shave its deficit to 15. Then, after Ryan Allen’s three-pointer gave Delaware a 16-point lead with 9:17 left, the Dragons went on a 23-7 run to tie the score at 79 with 3:50 left and set up a wild finish: The Blue Hens’ Ryan Daly hit a jumper with 10 seconds left to tie it at 85, but then Darian Bryant fouled Drexel’s Tramaine Isabell on a three-point attempt with two seconds left. Isabell made 2 of 3 free throws, and Carter missed a desperation three-pointer at the buzzer. The Dragons somehow had won.
“We try to get bricks, which is three straight stops,” Isabell told ESPN. “Those started coming to us, in bunches. [The coaches] just kept screaming at us at timeouts, whatever the run was. 17-2, 8-0. After you hear that a couple times, you [start thinking], ‘We were just down 25 points seven minutes ago, maybe this is possible,’ and we just made history.”
“I told them, just get a stop, there’s no 30-point shot, 20-point shot, 15-point shot,” Spiker said. “Let’s just be poised here. We turned up the tempo, made it more full-court. Let’s make it a crazy game.”
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