Blue Hens Use Big Second Half To Race Past Northeastern, 87-74, and Advance To CAA Championship Game Monday Night
Top-seeded Delaware, which moved to 24-9 on the season, will face No. 3 seed William & Mary in Monday's championship game. The Blue Hens and Tribe will play for the title at 7 p.m. in a game televised by NBC Sports Network.
The Blue Hens won for the first time in four trips to the CAA Tournament Semis, and will play in their conference championship game for the seventh time in school history.
Senior Davon Usher (at left) again led the Blue Hens in scoring with 21 points, while Jarvis Threatt had a superb all-around effort which included 19 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and four steals.
Devon Saddler (below) scored 16 points while dishing out a season-high nine assists, while Carl Baptiste scored 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the floor. Kyle Anderson contributed 10 points on the afternoon, as all five Blue Hens reached double figures.
Delaware knocked down 32 of 54 field goal attempts to shoot 59.3 percent from the floor, its highest percentage since UD shot 60.7 percent against Northeastern in the America East Tournament Semifinals at the BCC on March 4, 2001. The Blue Hens were 7 of 14 from three-point range, and 16 of 20 from the foul line.
Fifth-seeded Northeastern, which fell to Delaware for the third time this season, ended its year with an 11-21 record. Scott Eatherton paced the Huskies with 20 points while Reggie Spencer added 18, as both players tied for the team lead with eight rebounds.
“Our guys really stuck with it during the first half, and I thought our second half energy and defensive intensity was what it needed to be and really fueled our offense,” said eighth-year Blue Hen head coach Monté Ross. “Our guys can score, and once they get going, I just stay out of the way. At halftime we talked about movement and attacking the zone, and we did a much better job of that in the second half.”
After a back and forth opening 20 minutes, Threatt connected on a pair of free throws with 1.4 seconds remaining to give Delaware a 39-37 lead at the break. The Huskies scored the first five points of the second period to go back in front 42-39, before the Blue Hens exploded.
Delaware connected on 14 of its next 16 shots from the field, as the Blue Hens went on a 35-10 run over the next 10 minutes to take a commanding 74-52 lead with 8:56 remaining. UD scored on 15 of 18 possessions during the spectacular run, which was capped with consecutive three-pointers by Saddler that put the game away.
The Huskies never seriously threatened from there, only getting as close as 12 points in the final 70 seconds before a Threatt free throw at the 34-second mark closed the scoring.
“We have a lot of scorers on our team, and Coach Ross has done a great job of blending us together,” said Usher, a Baltimore native who has led Delaware in scoring during each of its first two tournament games.
Northeastern missed its first 10 shots from the field as the Blue Hens scored the opening 10 points of the game, while another seven-point spurt capped by an Usher three-pointer made it a 19-5 game at the 12:47 mark. However the Huskies immediately answered with an 11-0 spurt of their own, and took their first lead of the day at 26-24 following two free throws by David Walker.
Northeastern led by as many as five points a minute and a half later, but after the Blue Hens pulled even, Threatt hit two free throws late to give Delaware a two-point cushion at the break.