Usher, Threatt Lead Blue Hens To 87-76 Comeback Win Over Hofstra in CAA Tournament Quarterfinals
The top-seeded Blue Hens, who won their third straight game and improved to 23-9 on the season, advance to the CAA Semifinals for the second straight year, and will face the winner of the Drexel-Northeastern game on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Usher, playing is his hometown of Baltimore, led Delaware with eight rebounds, knocked down four three-pointers and was 8 of 10 from the foul line as he reached double figures for the 21st straight game and moved into fifth place on the UD single season scoring list. Threatt (at left) went 6 of 7 from the floor during his stellar second half, while dishing out a team-high four assists on the afternoon.
Devon Saddler (below right) chipped in with 15 points for the Blue Hens while Kyle Anderson added 12, as both players finished 7 of 8 from the foul line. Delaware shot just 38.7 percent during the opening 20 minutes, but went 14 of 22 from the field (63.6%) and 20 of 25 from the charity stripe while putting up 50 second half points.
The Blue Hens posted their 10th victory of the season after trailing at halftime, including all three of their victories over Hofstra.
“I felt that we had to get the jitters out in the first half, and once we did, we imposed our will during the second half,” said eighth-year Blue Hen head coach Monté Ross, who earned CAA Coach of the Year honors on Thursday. “We just allowed too many layups early on, and wanted them to make some contested jumpers in the second period. We have a bunch of guys who don’t panic, and they understand that you have to play all 40 minutes this time of year.”
The eighth-seeded Pride ended its season with a 10-23 record, as Hofstra fell to Delaware for the eighth consecutive meeting. Zeke Upshaw paced the Pride with 23 points, while Dion Nesmith added 16 and Stephen Nwaukoni contributed 13 during the game.
Hofstra opened the game by hitting its first four field goal attempts and the Pride went up as many as nine in the opening half, the second time at 28-19 following a jumper by Nwaukoni.
Delaware immediately answered with a 13-4 spurt, tying the game at 32-32 on two Saddler free throws at the 3:48 mark. However Upshaw countered with consecutive three-pointers, while Barnett Harris scored on a putback in the final seconds to cut the Pride advantage to 40-37 at the break.
Usher then opened the second half with a three-pointer, while on the Blue Hens’ next possession Threatt converted a three-point play to give Delaware its first lead of the contest. UD scored 11 of the first 13 points during the second stanza, going in front 48-42 on another Usher triple with 17 and a half minutes left.
Hofstra climbed back within three but Threatt converted a fastbreak dunk and then drained a leaner in the paint, giving the Blue Hens a 58-51 advantage at the 12-minute mark.
Delaware led by at least five points from there, and took a double digit lead at 71-61 when Usher capped off a three-point play at the 7:22 mark. The Pride clawed within six a little over a minute later, but the Blue Hens responded by scoring eight of the next 10 points to take their largest lead of the day at 79-67 on a Carl Baptiste dunk with 3:56 to play.
Hofstra closed the margin to 80-75 with 1:02 on the clock, but the Blue Hens went 7 of 8 from the foul line from there to ice the victory.
“We knew we’d be able to score, so if we could hold down Hofstra in the second half, we’d be alright,” Usher said.
Delaware eclipsed the 80-point mark for the 18th time this season, setting a new UD single season record.