Saddler, Hagins Lead the Way in CAA Opener as Delaware Downs League Favorite Drexel 71-60
December 3, 2011
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Photos Courtesy of Chris Permar
NEWARK, Del. -- For the second straight year, playing the Colonial Athletic Association pre-season favorite in the league opener didn't faze the University of Delaware men’s basketball squad.
Sophomore guard Devon Saddler weaved in and out of the Drexel defense at will and also connected on four three-pointers to finish with 30 points and junior forward Jamelle Hagins (at right) controlled the game in the paint with 17 points and a team-high 12 rebounds as the Blue Hens (3-2, 1-0 CAA) opened league play with a convincing 71-60 victory over rival Drexel Saturday afternoon at the Bob Carpenter Center.
Playing before a season-high 2,421 fans and regional Comcast television audience, the Blue Hens won for the third time in the last four outings and remained unbeaten at home with a 3-0 slate for the second straight year. The Hens also knocked off the league pre-season favorite in the opener for the second straight year after downing Old Dominion 75-67 last December.
Delaware grabbed the lead four minutes into the game and stayed in front the rest of the way to snap a personal three-game losing streak against the Dragons. The Blue Hens now hold a slim 74-71 advantage in this spirited rivalry between two schools located less than an hour apart. The teams have played at least once every season since 1960-61.
Drexel (2-4, 0-1 CAA), the pre-season favorite to capture the CAA crown, got 18 points from guard Frantz Massenet, 14 points from Derrick Thomas, and eight points and 15 rebounds off the bench from Daryl McCoy, but three of the Dragons’ top point-producers - Samme Givens, Chris Fouch, and Damion Lee - were each held way below their season scoring averages and combined for just nine points on 2 of 17 shooting.
Givens, a pre-season first team All-CAA forward, missed on his only shot from the field and pulled four rebounds before fouling out in the final minute while Fouch was 0 for 9 from the field and scored just three free throws, and Lee was 2 for 7 from the field and finished with six points. Drexel was 3 for 15 from beyond the three-point range.
Delaware sophomore forward Josh Brinkley added nine points and four rebounds and freshman guard Jarvis Threatt pulled down nine rebounds. The Hens held a 40-32 edge on the boards in a physical game that saw five players foul out and 45 total fouls called.
Delaware, which became the first team this season to score more than 62 points against Drexel, shot 46 percent from the field and drained 5 of 14 three-pointers. The Dragons shot 37 percent from the field for the game, hitting just 20 of 54 shots.
“Credit Drexel and Bruiser (head coach Bruiser Flint) because this is always such a tough, physical game,” said Delaware head coach Monté Ross. “I’m very proud of our guys for the way they played today. Jamelle has been phenomenal all year long and Josh made some big baskets inside. Devon is so strong. He has the ability to take a hit and finish because he is so strong.”
Saddler (at left), who entered the week as the leading scorer in NCAA Division I, posted his second 30-point effort of the season and surpassed the 20-point mark for the fifth straight game while Hagins posted his third straight double-double. Saddler hit on 10 of 16 shots from the field on the day.
The game was tied four times in the first four minutes before Saddler completed a three-point play and Brinkley followed with a jumper to put the Hens up 12-9. They would never trail again, going up by as many as 10 points in the first half and taking a 30-25 advantage into halftime.
Drexel stayed within striking distance almost the entire second half, pulling to within two points twice, and trailed just 49-46 with 6:52 left after a Massenet three-pointer. But Delaware’s Hakim McCullar answered with a jumper to start a 7-1 run that pushed the Blue Hen lead to 56-47 with 4:34 remaining.
The Dragons pulled to within six points at 57-51 on a pair of Massenet free throws with 3:26 remaining, but Saddler took over for the Hens, draining a long three-pointer, finishing a conventional three-point play, and adding a layup in a span of just 62 seconds to give Delaware its largest lead of the game to that point at 65-53. The Hens then iced the win with six free throws the rest of the way.
The Hens return to non-league action with two road games this week, traveling to Philadelphia to take on Pennsylvania in the Palestra on Wednesday night and heading south to Dover to take on in-state rival Delaware State on Saturday.