Collapse, comeback or both? Drexel trails 53-19, then completes largest rally in D1 history

Drexel head coach Zach Spiker shouts to his players during the first half of a NCAA college basketball game against Rutgers Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016, in Piscataway, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Led by Tramaine Isabell, the Drexel Dragons scraped by Delaware 85-83 to complete one of the most improbable comebacks in college basketball history on Thursday night. In totality, their 34-point comeback win barely eclipsed the previous Division I record.

From Delaware’s perspective it was the worst collapse since LSU helplessly watched Kentucky overcome a 31-point comeback in 1994. The previous record was Duke’s 32-point comeback over Tulane in 1950, in which they trailed 54-22.

Isabell registered a near triple double, consisting of 29 points, nine assists and 12 rebounds to only one turnover. The Dragons awoke when Isabell did, as 2:30 ticks remained in the first half. From that point forward, the junior guard was responsible for 46 of Drexel’s final 65 points.

At the 2:36 point in the first half, Delaware was in complete control, hoarding a 53-19 lead. Drexel’s 10-3 run to end the half chipped away at the lead, but the Blue Hens still led by 27. In the second half, Drexel immediately embarked on an 18-4 run.

A 3-pointer from the right corner by Kurk Lee sliced the deficit to three and Isabell went coast to coast, spun off a defender, layed it up through the contact and completed the three-point play.

After battling back and forth for the final 4 minutes, Austin Williams’ put-back gave Drexel the lead with 1:13 remaining.

Delaware managed to knot up the score with 10 seconds remaining, however, they followed it up with a catastrophic error, fouling Isabell on a 3-point try. Isabell missed one of this three freebies, but Drexel still regained a two-point lead while Delaware was ultimately unable to sink a potential game-winning trey.

In the aftermath of their record-setting performance, Isabell was incredulous over Drexel’s feat, per ESPN‘s Jeff Borzello.

“We try to get bricks, which is three straight stops,” Isabell said. “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 just felt like, I don’t know. I didn’t believe it,” Isabell said of the comeback. “That’s something amazing to be part of. I can’t imagine having a team down 34 and making us believe we could come back.”

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DJ Dunson is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or find him on Twitter or Facebook.