Samme Givens scored a game-high 28 points and Northern Iowa's three-point attempt in the final seconds narrowly missed as the Dragons hung on for a 65-63 victory in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. The Dragons (29-6 )will now host UMass in the NIT Quarterfinals on Tuesday night at the DAC at 7 p.m.
Northern Iowa (20-14) made a valiant comeback in the second half and narrowly missed pulling off a miraculous comeback. The Panthers, who trailed by 18 at one point in the first half, played much better in the second half and halfway through the final period cut the lead to three points. UNI never led in the game, but trimmed the deficit to just one with :35 to play when Johnny Moran drained a three-pointer to make it 61-60. Drexel increased its lead to two points when Givens sank one of two from the line. UNI's Anthony James missed a contested lay-up and the Panthers were forced to foul Damion Lee. The freshman made both of his freebies to put the Dragons up by four. However, just seven seconds later, Chip Rank swished another three-pointer to make the score 64-63. UNI fouled Frantz Massenat with five seconds left, but the First Team All-CAA guard was only able to make one of two as the Dragons held on to a 65-63 lead. The Panthers pushed the ball up the court where Moran was forced to double pump on a long three-point attempt from straight on. His shot bounced off the rim as Drexel picked up its school-record 29th win.
The first half was all Drexel. The Dragons shot a blistering 60 percent from the floor and made six of eight three-pointers. Drexel took a 33-15 point lead at the 5:45 mark of the half after Chris Fouch made a long three-pointer. The junior scored nine of the points during the Dragons' 14-0 run. Fouch scored 14 points in the first half and was 4-for-5 from deep. As good as Fouch was, Givens was the real story in the game. The senior scored 16 of his 28 points in the first half and missed just one of his eight shots. He finished the day 11-for-13 shooting. The Panthers helped the Dragons' cause by committing nine turnovers and Drexel scored 10 points off those miscues.
UNI became just the fifth team to outrebound Drexel this season. The Panthers had a 32-24 advantage on the glass and had eight offensive rebounds. Moran finished with a team-high 19 points and was 5-for-11 from behind the arc. He was the only Panther in double figures. Moran and Seth Tuttle each had eight rebounds.
Tickets for the UMass game are $15 for adults and $5 for youth tickets. There are a limited amount of free tickets for Drexel students with a valid ID who come to the DAC in advance. To purchase tickets, log in to drexeltickets.com, call 866-4DREXEL or stop by the DAC Ticket Office from 8:30-6 on Monday.