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Devon Saddler scored a game-high 25 points during Saturday's 78-74 win at James Madison.
Courtesy: Cathy Kushner/JMU Athletics

University of Delaware Menís Basketball Hangs On To Defeat James Madison, 78-74, as Ross Collects 100th Career Win

Courtesy: Delaware Athletics
Release: 01/11/2014
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HARRISONBURG, Va. -- The University of Delaware men’s basketball team held off James Madison, 78-74, Saturday afternoon at the JMU Convocation Center, giving Blue Hen head coach Monté Ross his 100th carer victory.

Delaware won its season-best fourth straight game, improving to 10-7 overall and 2-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Blue Hens have opened conference play with two straight wins for the fourth time since joining the CAA, and snapped a four-game road losing streak.

Blue Hen senior Devon Saddler led the Blue Hens with 25 points off the bench, while Davon Usher contributed 21 points and knocked down five three-pointers. Jarvis Threatt added 16 points, six rebounds and four assists, while Marvin King-Davis led Delaware with nine boards. 

James Madison, which was playing only its third home game of the season, fell to 6-11 overall and 1-2 in the league. Andre Nation, playing just his second game of the season, led five Dukes in double figures with 22 points on 9 of 11 shooting. Taylor Bessick contributed a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds for JMU, while Ron Curry and Charles Cooke added 14 points apiece.

“I thought out defensive effort in the second half was the difference in the game,” said Blue Hen head coach Monté Ross, who became just the third coach in UD history to reach the century mark in victories. “JMU did a great job of challenging us in the paint in the first half, and we challenged our guys at the half. We did a much better job of keeping them on the perimeter in the second half, and also did a much better job on the boards. You have to be really tough and really strong down the stretch to win CAA games, and we did that tonight. Carl (Baptiste) has been a monster for us this year, and with him out our guys really stepped up and made plays when they needed to be made.

“The 100 wins is nice, but the biggest thing is that we were able to take over a program and build it to where it’s consistently one of the top programs in the conference. Our success is attributed to a lot of really good players and assistant coaches.”

After trailing by a pair at the half Delaware quickly pulled even, before Nation scored five straight points to put JMU in front 50-45 with 15:47 to play. But Delaware would answer with a 12-3 spurt, taking a 57-53 lead and forcing a Dukes time out with 11:48 left following a driving layup by Saddler.

However UD missed its next nine field goal attempts, as the Dukes took advantage with an eight-point spurt to regain the lead at 61-57 with 7:11 to play. Saddler ended the run with a three-pointer, and after the teams exchanged baskets for two minutes, Usher hit two free throws and buried a triple to put the Blue Hens up 69-65 with 3:35 to play.

Threatt later added two free throws to make it a six-point game, but Nation countered with a jumper and two free throws to cut UD’s lead to 71-69 with 1:41 left. Threatt then hit one free throw, while Saddler drained a pair from the stripe to put the Hens up 74-69 with :26.5 left.

But Curry hit two foul shots, and after Threatt made one, Curry converted a three-point play to trim the margin to a single point. Threatt then hit one foul shot with :10.6 left giving the Dukes a chance, but Curry lost the ball driving the paint and the Blue Hens regained possession. Usher then hit a free throw to put the game away, as Delaware snapped a three-game losing skid to the Dukes.

The Blue Hens shot just 33.3 percent from the field, but earned the victory due to its 25 of 35 performance from the foul line. The Dukes shot 44.3 percent and held a 49-40 rebounding margin over Delaware, which played the final 23 minutes without senior forward Carl Baptiste who suffered a left ankle injury.

Delaware led by as many as five points early in the first half, while a three-pointer by Saddler gave the Blue Hens a 22-20 advantage at the 10:32 mark. However the Dukes scored six straight points to regain the lead, while two baskets by Bessick put JMU in front 36-26 and forced a Delaware timeout with 4:32 to play.

The Blue Hens were still down seven points in the final minute of the period, but Threatt converted a three-point play and hit an acrobatic layup just before the horn to cut Delaware’s deficit to 42-40 at the break.

Delaware will look for its fifth straight win on Wednesday when the Blue Hens host William & Mary at 7 p.m.

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