Blue Hens Continue to Cruise in CAA Play, Knock Off Pre-Season Favorite Towson 83-76
NEWARK, Del. -- The University of Delaware raced out to a 15-point halftime lead and then held off a late rally by Towson to stay unbeaten in Colonial Athletic Association play Saturday afternoon with an 83-76 men's basketball win at the Bob Carpenter Center.
Playing before a season-high crowd of 4,138 and a regional Comcast TV audience, Delaware (14-7, 6-0 CAA) led from start to finish and extended its winning streak to eight games overall and six straight victories at the BCC. The Hens are now 6-1 at the BCC this season and have won 21 of their last 26 home games since January, 2011.
Delaware senior guard Devon Saddler sparked the Blue Hens again as he posted his school-record tying seventh straight 20-point effort with a team-high 23 markers, junior guard Jarvis Threatt (at left, photo by Mark Jordan) added 20 points, and senior guard Davon Usher (below right, photo by Chris Mlynarczyk) knocked down 17 points to lead the way. Sophomore forward Marvin King-Davis chipped in with 10 points and joined Usher, Threatt, and Carl Baptiste with a team-high five rebounds.
Saddler’s seventh straight 20-point effort tied the school record set by Kenn Barnett in 1966-67 and by Ken Luck in 1980-81. Saddler has now scored 1,973 career points and now needs only 27 to reach 2,000 and is 57 shy of the school record of 2,030 points by Mike Pegues.
The Blue Hens are off to a 6-0 start in league play for only the third time in school history and for the first time since 1991-92 when Delaware went 14-0 in league play on the way to capturing the North Atlantic Conference title and the school’s first NCAA Tournament berth.
“It was a hard-fought game with not a lot of flow to it, but we will take the win,” said Delaware head coach Monté Ross. “Our effort was tremendous. We knew Towson would make a run, but we were able to withstand it. We knew today would be a challenge and I’m glad that our guys stepped up. We can’t thank the crowd enough for coming out and supporting us today.
Towson (12-8, 3-2 CAA), the pre-season league favorite, lost for the second straight game despite a huge effort from pre-season Player of the Year Jerelle Benimon, who poured in 29 points and pulled down 16 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season. He also surpassed the 20-point mark for the 10th time this season.
Marcus Damas added 12 points and six rebounds for the Tigers while Rafriel Guthrie added 11 points and six rebounds off the bench. Both Damas and Guthrie, as well teammate Barrington Alston, fouled out in the final nine minutes.
The rough-and-tumble affair featured 59 combined fouls - 31 by Towson - and 80 free throw attempts. The Hens drained 26 of 41 shots from the charity stripe to stay in front. Towson, which outrebounded the Hens 50-33, hit on 28 of 39 attempts.
Delaware stormed out to a 10-point lead midway through the first half and outscored Towson 11-0 over the final 4:48 to take a 40-25 advantage into halftime.
The Hens led by as many as 17 points at 46-29 early in the second half before the Tigers, led by Benimon’s 20-second half points, rallied back. Towson eventually cut the Delaware margin to six points at 61-55 with 9:23 left and to within four at 63-59 with 7:57 remaining. The Tigers cut the Delaware lead to four again at 67-63 on a Benimon layup with 6:01 remaining, but the Hens would not allow Towson to get any closer.
Among the big plays for the Hens down the stretch were a conventional three-point play by Threatt with 5:14 left to push the Delaware lead back to seven and a key three-pointer by Saddler with 1:02 left that gave the Hens an insurmountable 79-71 cushion.
Delaware will return to action Wednesday, Jan. 29, when the Hens travel to Williamsburg, Va. to take on William & Mary.