Frantz Massenat scored 18 points and handed out a career-high 14 assists as Drexel defeated Central Florida, 81-56, in the first round of the NIT at the Daskalakis Athletic Center. Chris Fouch scored a game-high 19 points and Goran Pantovic came off the bench to score a career-high 10 points as the Dragons won their school record 28th game of the season. Drexel will now face Northern Iowa in the second round on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. at the DAC.
Drexel (28-6) started out fast and scored the first nine points of the game. The Dragons would never trail in the contest. The Knights (22-11) responded with the next seven points, all by Keith Clanton, to cut it to 9-7. They wouldn't get closer than two points the rest of the way as opened up a double digit lead with eight minutes to play in the half and went to intermission up 37-24. In the first half, Drexel held UCF to just 30 percent shooting. On the other end of the court, Drexel made seven of its 12 three-point attempts and shot 54 percent from the field. Massenat, who recorded his second double-double of the season, handed out nine of his 14 assists in the first half. He also finished the game 3-for-3 from behind the arc.
The Dragons started off slow in the early going as fouls mounted up for both teams. UCF trimmed the lead to just nine points with 14:31 left when Tristan Spurlock drained a three-pointer. The Dragons lead remained at just 10 points with 9:54 left when Daryl McCoy picked up his fourth foul, joining Samme Givens on the bench who recorded his fourth foul just 45 seconds earlier. However, on Drexel's next two possessions, Fouch nailed three-pointers, and on the team's next two trips, McCoy and Ruffin were each sent to the line where they converted both free throws increasing the Dragons' lead to 59-43. Over the next three minutes of the game, Pantovic was 4-for-4 from the floor and sank a pair of free throws as the crowd erupted for the sophomore who finished with 10 points.
Fouch quietly had another big game for the Dragons. The junior sank five three-pointers and had 19 points in only 18 minutes. Derrick Thomas added 10 points and had three assists, while Dartaye Ruffin played 35 minutes, finishing with nine points and eight rebounds.
Clanton led the Knights with 12 points. He was UCF's only player in double figures. UCF finished the game shooting 38 percent from the floor and made only four of its 15 three-point attempts. The Knights were just 10-for-20 from the line.