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Devon Saddler led the Blue Hens with 24 points as the Blue Hens clinched the CAA regular season title with Saturday's 89-86 win at College of Charleston.
Courtesy: Mark Campbell

University of Delaware Menís Basketball Holds Off College of Charleston, 89-86, To Claim Outright CAA Regular Season Title

Courtesy: Delaware Athletics
Release: 03/01/2014
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CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The University of Delaware men’s basketball team held off College of Charleston, 89-86, Saturday afternoon at TD Arena as the Blue Hens secured their first outright Colonial Athletic Association regular season championship.

The Blue Hens, who closed the year with impressive road wins over UNCW and the Cougars, end the regular season with a 22-9 overall record including a 14-2 mark in league play. Delaware has earned the top seed in next weekend’s CAA Tournament in Baltimore, and will take on either eighth-seeded Hofstra or ninth-seeded UNCW at 12 noon on Saturday in the quarterfinals.

Delaware claimed its eighth regular season conference title in school history, and the first since the 1998-99 squad captured the America East Conference championship.

Devon Saddler, playing the final regular season game of his illustrious Blue Hen career, poured in a team-high 24 points to lead Delaware to its eighth road victory in nine conference games. Fellow senior Carl Baptiste added 21 points and six boards, while classmate Davon Usher contributed 16 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Usher now ranks sixth on the UD single season scoring list with 602 points and becomes just the fourth player in Blue Hen history to score 600 points in a season along with Mike Pegues, Greg Smith and Saddler.

Junior Jarvis Threatt scored 13 points, dished out a career-high 13 assists against just one turnover, and made five steals during a tremendous all-around effort. Threatt’s 13 helpers were four shy of the school record, and the most since Mike Slattery handed out 15 against William & Mary on Feb. 1, 2003.

Kyle Anderson chipped in 11 points and knocked down three triples for the Blue Hens, who scored 89 points against a Cougars team that came in allowing just 61.6 points per contest. Delaware shot 48.3 percent from the field, buried eight three-pointers, and was 23 of 29 from the free throw line as the Blue Hens tied the school record by reaching the 80-point mark for the 17th time this season.

“For all the hard work that our guys have put in to culminate in a championship is special,” said eighth-year Blue Hen head coach Monté Ross. “I’m so proud of these guys to be able to come on the road and win twice this week. I’m very privileged to coach this group. We have really quality guys on our club, and I’m very happy we could win a championship.”

Freshman Canyon Barry led all scorers with 27 points for CofC, which dropped to 14-17 overall and 6-10 in league play. Willis Hall and Nori Johnson each contributed 13 points while Anthony Stitt had 11 for the Cougars, who knocked down 13 of 26 three-point attempts and were 17 of 22 from the foul line.

The Cougars took a 45-39 halftime lead and opened the second period with a bucket to go up eight, before a quick seven-point run by the Blue Hens brought UD back within a single point. Two Baptiste free throws at the 14:05 mark gave Delaware its first lead of the second half at 52-51, but Barry answered with a triple as the teams went back and forth.

Later Johnson drained a contested triple to put CofC back up three but Delaware countered with a 7-0 spurt, as an Anderson three capped the run and gave the Blue Hens a 74-70 advantage with 5:33 left.

Stitt buried a jumper to bring the Cougars within a pair, but Usher converted a fastbreak layup before Saddler scored on a floater to put the Blue Hens in front 78-72 with 3:18 remaining. CofC clawed back within three and had a chance to tie in the final minute, but Johnson’s three-point attempt from the left corner was off the mark, and Delaware went 6 of 6 from the foul line from there to seal the victory. It was a six-point game before Barry’s last second three-pointer accounted for the final margin.

The win gave the Blue Hens their 11th road victory of the season, and Delaware has now won 18 of its last 21 CAA road contests.

After the teams were knotted at 5-5 early on, Delaware used a 9-2 run and went in front 14-7 when Threatt found Baptiste for a dunk five minutes into the contest. Later in the half CofC responded with a 16-6 run, taking its first lead since the early going when Johnson converted a four-point play to make it a 26-24 game.

A last second three-pointer by Johnson gave CofC a 45-39 halftime advantage, as the Cougars posted their highest first half output of the year. But Delaware put up 50 points in the second half as the Blue Hens overcame their ninth halftime deficit of the season.

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