Blue Hens Edge Santa Clara, 54-53, in First Round of Cable Car Classic
December 29, 2010
Photos Courtesy of John Medina
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Devon Saddler scored a team-high 12 points while Malcolm Hawkins blocked a shot just before the buzzer as the Blue Hens posted a 54-53 victory over Santa Clara in the first round of the 44th Annual Cable Car Classic Wednesday night at the Leavey Center.
The Blue Hens will face American, a 73-57 winner over Fordham, in the Cable Car Classic championship Thursday at approximately 11:15 p.m. Eastern.
Hawkins scored four points and grabbed a career-high 10 rebounds for Delaware, which snapped a two-game losing streak while improving to 6-4 on the season. Alphonso Dawson contributed nine points, Kelvin McNeil added a season-best eight points, and Jamelle Hagins (below left) chipped in with seven points and eight boards.
Raymond Cowels III and Kevin Foster each scored 13 points for Santa Clara, which dropped to 7-7 on the season. Ben Dowdell recorded a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Broncos, who shot just 28.8 percent from the field. Foster, Santa Clara's leading scorer at 19.1 points per game, reached double figures for the 13th time in 14 games but was held to 3 of 15 shooting by the Blue Hens, including 1 of 11 from behind the arc.
Delaware connected on just 18 of 47 from the floor for a 38.3 field goal percentage, and both teams struggled mightily from three-point range. The Blue Hens went just 2 of 18 from behind the arc, while the Broncos were only 3 of 19 from deep.
Santa Clara had a chance to win the game in its final possession after calling a timeout with 6.9 seconds left, but after Cowels III drove the left baseline his shot was blocked by Hawkins. The rebound was grabbed in the paint by Dowdell, but he could not get off a final shot before the horn sounded.
"All that toughness and heart we showed tonight - that's what defense is," said fifth-year Delaware head coach Monté Ross, whose team won for the third time in its last four road games. "We got down 10 in the first half but I thought Brian Johnson's three-pointer in the final seconds got us going. Our defense has been very sharp so far this season, and I'm very happy we could continue that tonight."
Delaware trailed 29-23 at the break but after both teams scored a pair of points, the Blue Hens scored seven consecutive points to take the lead. Hagins hit a free throw, converted a dunk and connected on a 12-foot jumper before Jawan Carter scored in transition to put the UD up 32-31 with 14:46 to play.
McNeil nailed a pair of free throws to put Delaware up a pair, and after four straight Santa Clara points, McNeil scored inside to knot the game at 38-38 with 9:28 remaining.
Both teams would then go cold, as a free throw by Carter tied the contest at 41-41 at the 6:38 mark. But then Saddler (above right) collected a loose ball at midcourt and raced down the court for an emphatic dunk, and Dawson followed with a three-pointer to give the Blue Hens a 46-41 advantage with 4:48 on the clock.
Hawkins increased the lead to seven with a pair of free throws, but Evan Roquemore hit a pair of foul shots and Marc Trasolini converted a layup, the Broncos' first field goal in over eight minutes, to make it a 48-45 game at the 2:57 mark.
Carter then missed from the deep right corner, but Josh Brinkley corralled the rebound and laid the ball in to put Delaware back up five. Roquemore answered for the Broncos, but Saddler scored on a driving layup to put UD ahead 52-47.
Foster then nailed a three-pointer, but Dawson hit a floater on the baseline to increase the lead to four. But Foster was then fouled on a three-point attempt and hit all three free throws, bringing the Broncos within 55-54 with 50 seconds left.
Carter then missed and Brinkley was stripped of the rebound, and Santa Clara called a timeout with 6.9 seconds on the clock. But the Broncos could not convert in their final possession, as Delaware held on for its first victory in four tries over a West Coast Conference opponent.
Delaware led for much of the opening 11 minutes, and a three-point play by Saddler gave the Blue Hens a 15-12 lead at the 8:42 mark. But UD went scoreless over the next five minutes and the Broncos took advantage, scoring the next 13 points to take a 25-15 advantage on a layup by Niyi Harrison with 4:07 remaining.
Saddler stopped the run with a leaner off the glass at the 3:13 mark, while two free throws by Dawson made it a 26-20 game with 56 seconds left. Cowels converted a three-point play with 21 seconds to play, but Johnson drilled a three-pointer seconds before the halftime buzzer to cut the Broncos advantage to 29-23 at the break.