PHILADELPHIA — James Butler scored a career-high 22 points on 10-of-12 shooting and grabbed 15 rebounds and Drexel beat Niagara 72-64 on Friday night.

It was the first game as coach for Greg Paulus, who was named the Purple Eagles' interim coach Oct. 20 after Patrick Beilein abruptly resigned because of personal reasons. The school dropped the "interim" tag this week.

Niagara led 32-31 at halftime and lead changed hands for most of the second half until Butler's three-point play with 8:55 left put the Dragons ahead 49-48. The play sparked a 14-2 Dragons run and they led the rest of the way.

Mate Okros had 11 points for Drexel (1-1), T.J. Bickerstaff scored 10 and Camren Wynter distributed nine assists.

James Towns had 17 points for the Purple Eagles in their season opener. Marcus Hammond added 12 points and seven rebounds and Raheem Solomon had 12 points.

Drexel matches up against Abilene Christian at home on Sunday. Niagara plays Rutgers on the road on Sunday.

James Towns scored 17 points, but new men's basketball coach Greg Paulus took a loss in his Niagara debut.

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