Blue Hens Pull Out 66-65 Victory Over UNCW For 10th Straight Win; Saddler Eclipses 2,000 Career Points
NEWARK, Del. – Davon Usher and Devon Saddler each had key blocks in the final minute while Carl Baptiste scored the winning basket with 26 seconds remaining as the University of Delaware men’s basketball team shook off a tough shooting day to edge UNCW, 66-65, Saturday afternoon at the Bob Carpenter Center.
The Blue Hens extended their win streak to 10 straight games, tied for the third longest streak in school history, while improving to 16-7 overall and a perfect 8-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Delaware also claimed its seventh consecutive home game, its longest streak since the 2004 season.
The Blue Hens went just 20 of 58 from the field, as their 34.5 shooting percentage was the second lowest of the season, but were able to overcome an eight-point deficit with 9:14 remaining to remain unbeaten in the league.
UD senior guard Devon Saddler (below left) scored 12 of his 15 points after halftime, as he surpassed the 2,000-point mark for his career. Saddler, the third leading active scorer in the nation, has now scored 2,010 career points and needs 21 more to break the school record held by Mike Pegues.
Usher chipped in with 13 points, all but two in the second half, while Baptiste contributed 10 points and a team-high eight rebounds. The Blue Hens also got key contributions off the bench from freshmen Devonne Pinkard, who went 3 of 3 from behind the arc to finish with nine points, and Cazmon Hayes, who contributed eight points.
Cedrick Williams posted team-highs of 18 points and eight rebounds for UNCW, which dropped its 11th straight game while falling to 6-16 overall and 0-7 in the CAA. Addison Spruill chipped in with 16 points and six rebounds off the bench for the Seahawks, who lost their sixth consecutive game in Newark.
Neither team shot well during the first period before a Pinkard three-pointer at the buzzer gave the Blue Hens a 28-26 halftime lead, but the Seahawks got their offense rolling in the second stanza and eventually took a 53-45 advantage with 9:14 to play.
However the Blue Hens quickly used a 10-2 spurt, highlighted by consecutive three-point plays from Usher, to draw even at 55-55 with 6:39 left. UNCW rebounded to go up 65-62 with 1:55 to go on a jump hook by Shane Reybold, before a free throw by Baptiste made it a two-point game. Usher then hit one of two from the line following a Blue Hen steal, while his blocked shot with 33 seconds left gave Delaware the ball back.
Saddler then raced down court and found Baptiste inside for the go-ahead layup, and following a UNCW time out, he blocked an 18-foot jumper by the Seahawks’ Chris Dixon. The rebound was a jump ball with Delaware earning possession, and even though Saddler missed two free throws after being fouled with :00.4 left, UNCW’s last ditch heave was off the mark.
“I am ecstatic about this victory today, as much so as Wednesday’s win at William & Mary,” said eighth-year Blue Hen head coach Monté Ross. “We didn’t play particularly well, and UNCW had a lot to do with that, but we found a way to win. Devon (Saddler) helped us get two big stops late and Carl (Baptiste) had the key basket at the end; we just made plays when we had to. Our defense kept us in the game, and I’m thrilled we were able to pull out a win when we didn’t shoot the ball well.”
The Blue Hens, coming off an 89-point performance in Williamsburg on Wednesday, made just three field goals through the first 11 minutes of Saturday’s contest and trailed 12-9 midway through the period. Six consecutive points by Hayes put Delaware up 20-16, and after the Seahawks went back up a point, Pinkard connected from the left wing just before the horn to give Delaware a two-point cushion at the break.
• Delaware’s 10-game win streak is the program’s longest since a school-record 20 straight in 1991-92
• Delaware has opened 8-0 in conference play for the second time in school history
• The Blue Hens have now won four consecutive games over UNCW
• Devonne Pinkard’s nine points tied a season-high
• Saddler has reached double figures in all 16 games in which he has appeared this year
• Davon Usher reached double digits for the 12th straight contest
• Delaware is back home on Monday to host Northeastern at 7 p.m.