Comeback Falls Short as Delaware Menís Basketball Falls to Charleston Southern 95-93 in Wild Home Opener
Delaware (0-2) fought back from a 22-point first half deficit to take the lead in the second half and had tied the score at 85-85 with 5:08 left to play, but the Hens could never get back on top as the Bucs (2-0) held on for the win. CSU’s Will Saunders missed two free throws with 10 seconds left to give the Hens a chance, but Jarvis Threatt was stopped on a drive down the lane in the final seconds as Saunders partially blocked the shot and Arlon Harper grabbed the rebound to preserve the win.
Blue Hen senior guard Davon Usher, a first-year transfer from Mississippi Valley State, starred in his BCC debut as he scored 21 of his game-high 30 points in the second half, dropped in five three-pointers, and pulled down seven rebounds in the loss. Delaware All-American candidate Devon Saddler (at left) added 29 points, Carl Baptiste chipped in with 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds, and Kyle Anderson netted 10 points but it wasn’t enough.
Saddler, who ranked among the national leaders in scoring a year ago when he averaged 19.9 points per game, became just the third player in UD history to surpass the 1,700-point mark with his effort Sunday and moved into second place on the school's scoring chart with 1,716 career points.
Charleston Southern (2-0), which opened the season with an astounding 130-51 romp over Johnson University on Friday night, shot 67 percent from the field (23 of 34) in the first half to take a 60-47 lead into intermission.
Six different Bucs players scored in double figures as Saah Nimley led the way with 24 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, Matt Kennedy added 14 points, Cedrick Bowen added 13 off the bench, Saunders dropped in 11 points, and Arlon Harper and Sheldon Strickland each contributed 10 points off the bench. The 95 points by CSU was the third highest total ever against Delaware in the Bob Carpenter Center, which opened in 1992-93.
“It’s a game of runs and obviously you can’t let a team make a run and go up by 20 like Charleston Southern did today,” said Delaware head coach Monté Ross. “I was proud of our guys because they battled back and made some big stops in the second half, but we had some costly turnovers and some poor shot selection down the stretch that cost us.”
The loss was the second straight heartbreaking setback for the Blue Hens in the early going. Delaware fell at Richmond 71-69 in the season opener Friday night as the Spiders knocked down two free throws in the final seconds to post the win.
Delaware jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the first two minutes on Sunday but the tide turned quickly as Charleston Southern grabbed its first lead at 19-18 with 12:55 left and used a 42-13 run on the way to a 60-47 lead at the break. CSU shot 23 of 34 from the field for the stanza, including 10 of 16 accuracy from the three-point line. Nimley led the way with 14 first-half points.
The Blue Hens came out strong in the second half as the Hens outscored CSU 18-8 over the first seven minutes and finally tied the game up at 70-70 on an Usher three-pointer with 11:44 left. The game featured four ties and three lead changes over the next six minutes with the Hens knotting the score at 85-85 on three free throws from Usher with 5:08 left.
But that would be the Hens’ last lead as Strickland answered with a three-pointer and Bowen followed with a layup for a five-point lead. Delaware cut the lead down to 95-93 on three free throws by Saddler with 15 seconds left, but the Hens could not take advantage of Saunders’ two missed free throws five seconds later.
Charleston Southern, a member of the Southern Conference, will take on the Blue Hens again on Dec. 3 as they host Delaware in Charleston, S.C. Delaware will return to action next Sunday when the Hens travel to Hampton.