Longtime Duke record falls as Drexel mounts biggest comeback in men’s D-I history

Dragons' rally from 34 points down bests Blue Devils' 32-point comeback from 1950

Breaking a record that stood for 67 years, Drexel staged the biggest comeback in Division I men’s basketball history Thursday, erasing a 34-point deficit to defeat Delaware 85-83.

The old record of a 32-point comeback was set when Duke rallied past Tulane on Dec. 30, 1950.

Delaware was on top 53-19 with 2:36 to go in the first half at Philadelphia, and the Blue Hens still held a seemingly comfortable 56-29 edge to halftime.

Drexel outscored Delaware 56-27 after the break. The Dragons twice took the lead before the Blue Hens’ Ryan Daly hit a shot with 10 seconds to go to even the score 83-83.

Drexel’s Tramaine Isabell was fouled on a 3-point attempt with two seconds left. He made the first and third of the ensuing three foul shots, and Delaware’s Eric Carter missed on a 3-point attempt in the last second.

“Our team did not quit,” Drexel coach Zach Spiker said, according to the Delaware State News. “We probably hung our heads a little bit. But there’s only one way to approach adversity, and that’s to have a ‘next-play’ attitude and keep fighting.

“So many times we say, ‘It’s a great day to be a Dragon.’ Any time we had a dead ball in the second half, we said, ‘It’s a great day for a comeback.’ And it certainly was.”

Isabell scored a game-high 29 points. Ryan Allen paced Delaware with 21 points.

The game at Philadelphia’s Daskalakis Athletic Center continued the city’s memorable sports month after the Eagles topped the New England Patriots for their first Super Bowl title.

Despite seeing its record broken, Duke’s basketball program paid tribute to Drexel, tweeting, “Congrats @DrexelMBB. Amazing comeback. Respect.”

The victory allowed Drexel to escape a tie with Delaware for last place in the Colonial Athletic Association standings. The Dragons improved to 12-18 overall, 6-11 in league play, while the Blue Hens fell to 12-18, 5-12.