Fresh off of their first conference loss of the season, the Delaware Blue Hens (8-10, 3-2 CAA) looked to get back on track against the conference leader in the Northeastern Huskies (11-7, 6-0 CAA).
Despite a ferocious comeback in the second half, the Blue Hens couldn’t give the Huskies their first conference loss, falling 74-70 at the Bob Carpenter Center on Saturday.
“The obvious answer was that it was a slow start for us,” Delaware guard Jarvis Threatt said. “I tell you this every time, it’s about defense with us and I think we’re a consistent defensive team, but it has to be for the whole game. Defense has to be the key for us.”
“We dug ourselves too deep a hole against a good team. You just can’t do that,” Blue Hens coach Monté Ross added. “These guys guys are too good to do that. We started out the game with three turnovers on our first four possessions and that’s something that you can’t do. I thought we did a good job of fighting our way back, but I didn’t do a good job of trusting our defense.”
Delaware had four players score in double-digits against the Huskies. It was Threatt that led the way, scoring 21 points off of 9-of-11 shooting (81.8 percent), adding seven assists and four rebounds. Fellow sophomore guard Kyle Anderson followed Threatt, contributing 19 points, nine of which came from beyond the arc. Forward Jamelle Hagins added 16 points, including six in a row to keep the Blue Hens in the game, and guard Devon Saddler put up 10.
Northeastern was paced by forward Quincy Ford and guard Joel Smith. The two leading scorers for the Huskies, who averaged a combined 29.1 points per game heading into Saturday’s matchup, scored 35 combined points (17 for Ford, 18 for Smith).
Northeastern put on a clinic from behind the three-point line, shooting 10-of-15 (66.7 percent) from deep. The Huskies went 7-of-9 (77.8 percent) in the first half, led by Ford, Smith and David Walker, who each had two three-pointers of their own. It was Smith, who averages 38.5 percent from beyond the arc on the season, that led the Huskies with three three-pointers.
“They were hitting shots, but when you’re wide open, it’s college basketball,” Threatt said. “We were getting confused on some switches because we were switching one through four. Kind of messed us up, but we came back in the second half and did what we usually do and you saw what happened, we started to come back.”
“It’s definitely an impressive number,” Anderson added. “We left them open, we were getting confused on screens and giving them wide-open shots. Offensive rebounds got them those shots.”
Both teams had no trouble putting the ball through the basket, as the Blue Hens shot just over 50 percent and the Huskies shot just under. While Threatt had the best percentage for Delaware (which finished at 53.1 percent overall), it was a team effort for Northwestern, who finished shooting 49.1 percent from the field. Ford shot 6-of-10 (60 percent) from the field, leading the team in that category.
The Huskies went on an 11-2 run to put the lead at 41-29 in the first half. The run pushed Northeastern to a double-digit lead, one that would not see single digits until the 10:52 mark of the second half, when Threatt nailed a contested three-pointer to bring the deficit to eight.
After giving the double-digit deficit back, the Blue Hens fought hard and shrunk the Huskies’ lead to four points. Down 55-41, Delaware stormed back and used a 14-4 run that spanned more than seven minutes in the second half. Hagins added four points off of two put-back shots, while Anderson added four points from the free-throw line during the stretch.
“Once we got within four with about six minutes, in all of our heads we’re thinking ‘we’ve been here before, we’ve been down in these kind of games,’” Anderson said. “We thought we would come back, they made a couple big shots and we didn’t hit as many.”
Before the half ended, a disputed buzzer-beating layup by Northeastern guard Demetrius Pollard led to a technical foul on Ross. The Delaware coach had been unhappy with numerous calls in the first half and was T’d up following the buzzer. Pollard’s shot did not count, but Smith shot two free throws before heading into the locker room, giving the Huskies a 45-33 lead at the half.
Delaware will look to end their two-game losing streak against James Madison (9-10, 3-3 CAA), who lost 73-47 to the Towson Tigers on Saturday.