Feeling the Payne: Blue Hens' NCAA Tournament Hopes Dashed as Michigan State Posts 93-78 Victory
SPOKANE Wash. -- Falling in the second round of the NCAA Tournament will always involve a little bit of pain.
Unfortunately for the University of Delaware men's basketball squad, the Blue Hens received a double dose of it Thursday afternoon in its second round game at the Spokane Arena.
Making their first appearance at the Big Dance since 1999, the No. 13 seed Blue Hens fought hard to the end before falling to No. 4 seed and 11th ranked Michigan State 93-78.
And the person doing most of the damage for the Spartans was Adreian Payne. The senior center scored an MSU NCAA Tournament and Spokane Arena record 41 points, draining 10 of 15 field goal attempts and hitting all 17 free throw attempts.
His 41-point performance was the highest against the Hens this season - and the most against UD since 2010 - and his total was the most by any player in the NCAA Tournament since 2008.
Colonial Athletic Association champion Delaware (25-10) had a five-game win streak snapped but closed out one of the most successful seasons in school history. The 25 wins was the second highest in school history and the NCAA Tournament appearance was just the fifth ever for the Blue Hens.
"Congratulations to Coach (Tom) Izzo and Michigan State," said Delaware head coach Monté Ross, the CAA Coach of the Year. "They are obviously a very good basketball team and an outstanding program. But I can't say enough about our team and our program.
"We have gotten to the point where we are not into moral victories," said Ross. "Our guys are so competitive and I was really proud of their effort tonight. But I have been proud of them all year long. This is such a special group and I think we represented the University well."
Led by the backcourt trio of seniors Devon Saddler (at left) and Davon Usher (above right) and junior Jarvis Threatt, the Blue Hens stayed in the game until the final minutes.
Saddler, Delaware's all-time leading scorer with 2,222 points, finished his career with a 21-point effort, while Usher contributed 20 and set the UD single season scoring record with 679 points.
After falling behind by 11 points at halftime, the Hens came out and scored the first six points of the second stanza on a Saddler three-point play and a long three-pointer by Usher off an inbounds pass to cut the lead to 44-39.
But the Spartans scored 8 of the next 10 points to push the lead to 11 and held a double figure lead the rest of the way.
Delaware rallied late, scoring six straight points to cut the margin to 85-75 with 2:35 left but Payne, as he did all day, answered with four straight points to remove any doubt of the outcome.
"He was on fire," said Delaware center Carl Baptiste who had the tall task of guarding Payne all day and eventually fouled out with 2:08 left. "Once he got his jumper going he was very tough to stop. He has a very good turnaround jumper and is a very good player."
Michigan State (27-8) now advances to the third round where the Spartans will play Harvard, a second round winner over Cincinnati earlier Thursday, on Saturday.
"I would like to give a lot of credit to Monté," said Izzo. "Those three guards (Saddler, Usher, and Threatt) do a lot of things. Its amazing how much they get to the free throw line and they did that all year long. We survived today but I think we learned something and we'll grow from it."
Delaware cut the Michigan State lead to 24-18 when Threatt converted a driving layup with 9:42 left in the first half. But Payne then went to work, carrying the Spartans on his back. The 6-10 center proceeded to score the next 17 points for the Spartans over a six minute span, and when he was done his team was up 36-18.
But Delaware refused to give up and rallied back. The Blue Hens then used an 11-0 run of their own - highlighted by two Usher three-pointers and a dunk by Marvin King-Davis - to get back in the game and cut the margin to 36-29 with 3:08 left.
Michigan State then scored the final three points of the half to take a 44-33 lead into the break.
Travis Trice came off the bench to add 19 points for Michigan State while Gary Harris and Branden Dawson each scored 10. Payne and Dawson each pulled eight rebounds for MSU as part of a 42-24 advantage on the boards.
Threatt led the Hens with six rebounds while Baptiste and Usher each pulled five rebounds and Saddler dished out a team-high four assists. Delaware committed only eight turnovers all day but shot just 36.4 percent (20 of 55) form the field.
• Ross cleared the bench in the final moments with backups Tommy Williams, Dylan Miller, Sean Locke, Tom Allshouse, and Cazmon Hayes all seeing action. Locke even scored a point with a free throw with 14 second left
• Delaware's 25 wins tied for the second most in school history, trailing only the 1991-92 team that went 27-4 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament
• Saddler played in his school-record 124th game, tying the mark set by his former teammate Jamelle Hagins last season
• Kyle Anderson and Usher each finished the season with 85 three-pointers, one shy of the UD single season record
• Saddler finished No. 6 on the all-time CAA scoring list with 2,222 points
• The game marked the 15th time this season that more than one Delaware player surpassed the 20-point mark
• The 78 points by Delaware was the fifth most allowed by the Spartans this season