File Photo Courtesy of Mark Campbell
WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Seahawks guard Chris Dixon missed a contested 17-foot jumper just before the final buzzer as the University of Delaware men’s basketball team won another last-second thriller by holding on for a 79-78 victory over UNCW Saturday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Blue Hens, who won for the ninth time in their last 11 games, improved to 16-13 overall and remained in second place in the Colonial Athletic Association with an 11-5 league mark. Delaware, who’s five games have been decided by a total of eight points, also won its 10th of 12 conference road games and snapped an eight-game losing skid in Wilmington. Additionally, the Blue Hens swept UNCW for the first time in school history.
The Seahawks, who lost for just the fourth time in 13 home games this year, fell to 10-18 overall and 5-11 in league play.
Junior Devon Saddler (at right) again led the Blue Hen charge with 24 points, reaching 1,600 for his career and recording his 35th consecutive double figure scoring game. Sophomore Jarvis Threatt posted his third double-double in the last six contests by pouring in 23 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, and dishing out five assists. Sophomore Kyle Anderson chipped in with 12 points on four three-pointers, while senior Josh Brinkley added nine points including the game-winning free throw with 1:06 on the clock.
Keith Rendleman had a monster night for the Seahawks, recording 26 points and 12 rebounds to post his 18th double-double of the campaign. Rendleman, who along with Jamelle Hagins are two of the eight active Division I players with 1,000 career points and rebounds, went 11 of 17 from the field but was just 4 of 11 from the foul line.
Dixon added a double-double with 12 points and a career-high 11 assists, while Cedrick Williams and Freddie Jackson each chipped in with 11 points for UNCW.
Delaware shot 54.5 percent from the field, connected on 7 of 17 three-point attempts, and went 12 of 15 from the foul line. However the Seahawks were just as prolific from the floor as UNCW shot 52.5 percent, although they finished only 7 of 18 from the charity stripe.
“Tonight was an old-fashioned Western shootout; we weren’t able to get many stops, but we got the most important one with seven seconds left,” said seventh-year Blue Hen head coach Monté Ross. “UNCW made a bunch of tough shots, but we kept answering them. I thought Jarvis was phenomenal all night, and his kick outs to Devon and Kyle really got those guys going. Our energy was great, and I’m so proud of the guys’ effort to get a win in Trask Coliseum.”
Delaware shot 62.1 percent in the opening half and carried a 44-36 lead into the break, but UNCW used eight early second half points from Dixon to knot the game at 49-49 with 16:42 left. The Blue Hens answered with five straight points on a Saddler three-pointer and two Threatt free throws, but the Seahawks battled back to knot the game at 56-56 on a Williams jumper.
Delaware was back up 60-58 after a Brinkley jumper, but Rendleman countered with a dunk before Craig Ponder hit a three-pointer to give the Seahawks their first lead of the night at 62-60 with 11 minutes to play. The Blue Hens responded to go back up three points, before a 5-0 Seahawks run put UNCW up 74-72 with 4:48 to go.
Saddler answered with two free throws and a tough jumper to put UD back in front 76-74 with 3:39 remaining, and after he again scored in the paint, Jackson converted a layup to knot the game at 78-78 with 1:18 left.
Brinkley was then fouled on a rebounds and made one free throw with 1:06 left, while the Seahawks’ Dylan Sherwood missed a three-pointer on the other end for UNCW. Saddler then misfired on a three-pointer, and after the Seahawks grabbed the board, UNCW called time out with :07.2 left. However Dixon’s last second jumper was off the mark, giving the Blue Hens the hard fought victory.
Delaware, which needs one more win to equal the 12-6 CAA mark set by last year’s team, closes the regular season Wednesday at Hofstra and next Saturday at home against George Mason.
The Blue Hens were up just a point at 13-12 following two Jackson free throws but then scored 10 of the next 12 points, including the final four by Carl Baptiste, to take a 23-14 advantage at the 10:17 mark of the first half. However the Seahawks answered with a 9-0 run of their own, tying the game at 23-23 on a Milson three-pointer with 7:50 remaining in the period.
Saddler hit consecutive three-pointers while Anderson added a triple of his own during a 9-2 UD run, putting the Blue Hens back up 32-25 and forcing a UNCW time out at the 5:40 mark. The Blue Hens lead grew to as much as 10, and after the Seahawks closed within six, Saddler hit a jumper to give the Blue Hens an eight-point advantage at the break. Delaware went 18 of 29 from the field during the opening 20 minutes, including 6 of 10 from three-point range.