Anderson's Hot Hand Helps Blue Hens Shock CAA Leader George Mason 65-60
February 1, 2012
Photos by Mark Campbell
NEWARK, Del. -- University of Delaware men's basketball head coach Monté Ross has said all season that when his team is on, the Blue Hens can beat any team in the Colonial Athletic Association.
The Blue Hens proved that Wednesday night as freshman Kyle Anderson's hot hand in the first half built the foundation and Delaware held off Colonial Athletic Association league-leader George Mason down the stretch for a thrilling 65-60 victory at the Bob Carpenter Center.
Delaware (10-12, 6-6 CAA) snapped a two-game losing streak as Anderson (at right) knocked down five three-pointers in the first half and finished with a career-high 21 points, Devon Saddler added 13 points and seven rebounds and drained four key free throws in the closing minutes, and Jamelle Hagins (at left) contributed 13 points, nine rebounds, and three blocked shots. Hagins' rebound tally included the 600th of his career at Delaware.
Anderson who finished the game hitting on 8 of 11 shots from the field and 5 of 7 beyond the arc, shook off a recent slump in which he was held scoreless on 0 for 6 shooting during his team’s recent two-game slide vs. Northeastern and Drexel.
George Mason (18-6, 10-2 CAA), which had defeated Delaware 89-63 in Fairfax, Va. two weeks ago and entered Wednesday's game in sole possession of first place, had a six-game win streak snapped and lost for just the second time in its last 13 outings.
“I was very proud of our guys tonight,” said Ross. “We were extremely sharp on both sides of the ball, especially on defense. For us to come back from the first George Mason game with the performance we had tonight shows how much character this team has. Kyle has a huge heart and it was nice to see him find his stroke tonight.”
Reigning CAA Player of the Week Ryan Pearson led the Patriots with 25 points and eight rebounds while Sherrod Wright came off the bench to add 12 points and Mike Morrison chipped in with 11 points. Pearson surpassed the 20-point mark for the ninth time this season he knocked down 15 points after the break.
Delaware overcame 21 turnovers, including several in the closing minutes that allowed Mason to close the gap, as the Hens outrebounded Mason 43-33 and held the league's top-ranked offense in check. The Patriots had entered the game leading the CAA in points per game (71.3) and field goal percentage (.466) but were held way below their average in both categories as they connected on just 22 of 65 shots from the field (33.8 percent) and were just 3 of 16 from beyond the three-point line and 13 of 21 from the foul line.
The Blue Hens finally got the best of George Mason, snapping a personal five-game losing streak to the perennial league power. Mason had downed the Hens in seven of the last eight meetings and in 13 of the last 15 matchups.
Anderson, who finished the night draining 8 of 11 shots from the field, including 5 of 7 from long range, ignited the Blue Hens to a big first half advantage as Delaware scored 10 straight points early to break a tie and take a 20-10 lead with 12:49 left and later used a 7-0 run to take their biggest lead of the night at 32-15 with 3:47 left. Anderson finished the first half with 12 points on 4 of 5 shooting from beyond the arc.
Mason came right back to narrow the gap as the Patriots scored the final nine points of the half, including seven from Pearson, to cut the Delaware lead to 32-24 at the break.
A quick start out of the second half gate propelled the Hens to another big lead as the Hens scored seven of the first eight points of the second half to go up 39-25 with 17:09 left.
The Patriots chipped away at the lead and eventually pulled to within two points at 46-44 with 9:20 remaining and still trailed just 50-46 with 5:55 left to play. Delaware then scored five straight points to push the lead back to nine at 55-46 and still held that margin at 60-51 after a Khalid Lewis free throw with 56 seconds left.
George Mason rallied again, cutting the gap to 62-58 with a 5-0 spurt with 26 seconds left and pulling to within three on a Morrison layup with four seconds left. But Delaware held on from there as Hagins knocked down two free throws one second later to preserve the victory.
Delaware will return to action Saturday when the Hens travel to James Madison for a 2 p.m. showdown with the Dukes. George Mason hosts Old Dominion Saturday at 5 p.m.
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