April 07, 2020

DeRocckis leads Drexel over UM> Dragons star shakes free of Bears

ORONO – For 39 minutes, University of Maine defenders took turns frantically chasing Drexel’s Mike DeRocckis through the labyrinth of screens that make up the world of a long-range bomber.

For about 31 of those minutes, the Black Bears did a pretty good job on the junior guard.

And in the other eight minutes, DeRocckis won the game.

DeRocckis finished with a 22-point effort – largely on the strength of crunch-time spurts at the end of each half – and the Dragons earned a 78-63 victory over the Bears.

DeRocckis broke lose despite a determined UMaine effort to shadow him.

“[The man guarding DeRocckis] didn’t have to help. They didn’t have to do anything but stay with Mike DeRocckis,” UMaine coach John Giannini said. “And they couldn’t do it.”

DeRocckis’ performance overshadowed a 24-point night by Black Bear junior Marcus Wills.

Drexel improved to 7-9, 5-4 in America East play, while the Black Bears dropped to 5-11, 2-6.

DeRocckis gingerly rubbed his upper arms after the game and admitted that playing a human pinball on the Black Bear’s Alfond Arena table wasn’t much fun.

“I’m 20 years old, but I don’t feel 20 after this game,” DeRocckis said. “I’ve got bruises on my arms. I look like an idiot out there wearing ACE bandages. But whatever’s gonna help us win. I’ll take getting banged up.”

After getting knocked around for long periods of time, DeRocckis got his revenge in the form of cruelly short surges.

He didn’t score a hoop in the second half until the Black Bears had rallied to within 62-58. But from there, he spearheaded a 16-5 closing run with eight points of his own.

That spurt mirrored the one DeRocckis threw at the Bears at the end of the first half, when he made his only three field goals of the period over the final 3:17 to halt a 10-0 Maine run and give the Dragons a 32-30 edge at the break.

“A shooter like that you’ve got to play good defense on them the whole game,” said UMaine guard Corey Thibodeau, who spent his 28 minutes chasing the Dragon. “Once he starts getting good looks, he’s gonna start knocking them down.”

The Black Bears were able to contain the conference’s second-leading scorer, Joe Linderman. Freshman Colin Haynes hounded him into an 11-point, five-rebound effort. But freshmen Stephen Starks (17 points) and Petrick Sanders (10) took up the slack.

On defense, the Dragons were able to handle the league’s top scorer, Fred Meeks. Meeks is still suffering with a left (non-shooting) wrist he injured last week, and he managed to make only four of 16 shots en route to 10 points. Allen Ledbetter scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half and grabbed five rebounds.

UMaine’s Giannini said defense turned out to be the key.

“In the second half, we just could not maintain defensive consistency,” he said. “We played good defense in spurts, but when it really counted, we gave up some easy shots.”

In the first half, the Black Bears unleashed some tough man-to-man defense on the Dragons’ two top guns – Linderman and DeRocckis – to stay close.

UMaine collapsed inside and virtually dared anyone other than Linderman to make a shot.

But the sharpshooting DeRocckis broke loose late in the period to propel the Dragons to their 32-30 lead at the break.

DeRocckis didn’t make his first hoop until he nailed an 18-footer and drew a foul with 3:17 to play. But he nailed two 3-pointers before intermission, scoring nine of his 11 points during a torrid three-minute span.

Linderman scored only four in the half.

Ledbetter scored 10 in the half and Dade Faison eight for UMaine.

Dragons 78, Black Bears 63

Drexel men (7-9) Maine (5-11)


Starks 7 13 3 4 17 Thompson 0 1 0 2 0

Sanders 4 9 2 2 10 Haynes 2 8 3 4 9

Linderman 5 10 1 5 11 Ledbetter 6 10 0 0 12

Gaffney 1 2 2 4 5 Wills 9 19 3 5 24

DeRocckis 6 11 6 6 22 Meeks 4 16 2 5 10

Coursey 0 3 3 4 3 Thibodeau 0 1 0 0 0

Dearborn 1 1 0 0 3 Faison 3 4 0 0 8

Williams 1 2 0 0 3 Tibbetts 0 1 0 0 0

Kouser 2 9 0 1 4

Riley 0 0 0 0 0

Totals 27 60 17 26 78 Totals 24 60 8 16 63

Drexel 32 78

Maine 30 63

3-pt. goals: Drexel (7-15): DeRocckis 4-5, Dearborn 1-1, Williams 1-1, Gaffney 1-2, Starks 0-2, Kouser 0-4; Maine (7-24): Wills 3-9, Faison 2-2, Haynes 2-8, Tibbetts 0-1, Thibodeau 0-1, Meeks 0-3

Attendance: 1,066

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