NYC Bound! Blue Hens Knock Off Virginia, 59-53; Headed To NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinals at Madison Square Garden
November 13, 2012
File Photo Courtesy of Mark Campbell
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The University of Delaware men’s basketball team defeated its first Atlantic Coast Conference opponent in 50 years as the Blue Hens posted a 59-53 win over the University of Virginia Tuesday night at John Paul Jones Arena in the second round of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Delaware advances to the semifinals and championship game at Madison Square Garden next Wednesday and Friday. The Blue Hens will take on the winner of tonight's Kansas State vs. Alabama-Huntsville game in Wednesday's semifinals. Those games next week are believed to be Delaware’s first ever games in Madison Square Garden.
The Blue Hens had been 1-10 all-time against Virginia, and had lost nine straight games to the Cavaliers since an 89-88 win in Charlottesville on Jan. 20, 1962. That was Delaware’s last win over a team currently in the ACC, as the Blue Hens had lost 19 consecutive games to teams currently in the powerhouse conference.
The Blue Hens, who improved to 2-1 on the year, were led by junior Devon Saddler who was held scoreless in the first half but erupted for 15 points during the final stanza. Sophomore Jarvis Threatt added 14 points, while senior Jamelle Hagins (at right) recorded his second double-double of the campaign with 10 points to go with a game-high 16 rebounds. The Blue Hens held their own on the boards against their ACC opponent as the Cavaliers held a slim 35-33 rebounding edge.
Cavaliers guard Joe Harris led Virginia with 20 points but went just 7 of 19 from the field. Forward Akil Mitchell posted a double-double with 15 points and 13 boards, while Darion Atkins was the third Cavalier in double figures with 11 points.
Delaware shot a respectable 42.6 percent against one of the tougher defenses in the ACC, while holding Virginia to just 35.1 percent shooting including a 4 of 21 performance from behind the arc. The Cavaliers, who dropped to 1-2 on the year, lost their second game to a Colonial Athletic Association opponent after falling at George Mason on Friday.
After Josh Brinkley opened the game’s scoring the Blue Hens went over six minutes without a point, but stayed in the contest by shutting down the Cavaliers. Virginia, which was picked seventh in the ACC Preseason Poll, led 6-2 at the 12:20 mark before a 10-0 Delaware run put the Blue Hens up 10-6.
UD extended the margin to 15-8 following a deep three-pointer by Kyle Anderson, and after Mitchell answered with a three-point play for Virginia, Threatt and Hagins added layups to put Blue Hens in front 19-11 and force a Cavaliers time out with 4:02 on the clock.
Mitchell again scored inside for Virginia but a Terrell Rogers jumper, an Anderson three-pointer and a Threatt leaner in the paint made it a 26-13 game with 1:36 to play. Mitchell connected twice from the foul line for Virginia, but Hagins scored inside with five seconds on the clock as Delaware took a 28-15 advantage into the half.
UD limited Virginia to 6 of 27 shooting during the opening half including 0 of 9 from three-point range, and forced nine Cavalier turnovers.
The Blue Hens continued to extend the lead in the second half, as a Threatt triple capped an early 7-2 spurt for Delaware and made it a 35-17 game with 16:55 remaining. But Virginia would make a run, scoring 14 of the next 16 points to pull within 37-31 at the 12:33 mark on a three-point play by Atkins.
Hagins answered inside after Harris hit a three-pointer to make it 39-34, while Saddler nailed two free throws to increase UD’s lead to 41-34 with 11 minutes to play. However the Cavaliers scored eight consecutive points, capped by a three-pointer by Evan Nolte, as Virginia took its first lead since the game’s early stages at 42-41 with 7:51 remaining.
But Delaware would immediately respond, as Saddler hit two three-pointers around a layup by Brinkley to put the Blue Hens back up 49-42 with 6:07 left. The Cavaliers rallied back in the seesaw affair though, pulling within 51-50 on a layup by Harris at the 3:07 mark.
But Threatt would hit a tough fadeaway in the lane, and after he made a steal at the other end, Threatt added a free throw to make it a four-point game with 2:10 on the clock. Harris gave Virginia a final chance by hitting a three-pointer with 15 seconds left to make it 56-53, but Saddler connected on three free throws from there to put the game away.
“No matter where we are playing or what situation we’re in, we feel like we can win the game,” said seventh-year Blue Hen head coach Monté Ross. “Good teams can withstand those runs, and our guys are ultra-tough and they really stepped up. It’s big to have the opportunity to play on a national stage like Madison Square Garden. I’m really happy for my guys, because they deserve it. It’s going to be exciting, but we are going up there to win.”
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