Jeff Neiburg (@Jeff_Neiburg)
When the final buzzer sounded as Delaware had capped off a resilient comeback victory against the College of Charleston, Davon Usher was in tears. Blue Hens coach Monté Ross had no idea why.
The reason was because the 6-foot-6 senior guard’s grandmother passed away Tuesday night. Usher never mentioned it to anyone until after the game ended.
“We got into the locker room and he made a little speech,” Ross said of Usher. “He said ‘fellas I didn’t say anything to anybody but that was my grandmother. That’s why we won that game, that was for my grandmother.’”
“Then he announced to everybody that she had passed,” Ross added. “We had a moment of silence for him.”
Just hours after learning of the passing of his grandmother, Usher led the Blue Hens all the way back from 20 points down with 8:48 to play. His 30 second half points kept Delaware undefeated in the Colonial Athletic Conference.
Usher finished the night with 42 points, easily surpassing his career-high of 30–which he accomplished against another team from Charleston, Charleston Southern–back on Nov. 11.
“I just felt [my grandmother’s] spirit on us,” Usher said. “We just kept fighting and fighting and fighting.”
The thought of not playing in Wednesday’s game ever crossed the South Baltimore, Md. native’s mind.
“I know my team needs me, and I need my team,” Usher said. “The only way for me to honor my grandma was to do what I love and that’s playing basketball.”
The 42 points that Usher scored are the most points ever scored by a Blue Hens player in the Bob Carpenter Center, and most in Delaware history since Dave Sysko scored 45 against Lafayette in 1964.
With just under nine minutes to go, Delaware trailed by 20 points and it looked like the ‘Hens were going to pick up their first conference loss of the season.
In stepped Usher, who scored 27 of Delaware’s final 36 points.
After fellow senior Devon Saddler hit a pull-up jumper from the free throw line with 1:07 left to get Delaware to within 64-63, Usher finished off the spectacular comeback.
College of Charleston senior forward Anthony Thomas drove into the lane and Usher picked his pocket, one of his seven steals on the night. Usher then took the ball coast to coast dribbling behind his back and in between three defenders en route to the hoop. His layup gave the Blue Hens the lead for good with 31 seconds left.
“That was a heck of a move he made, dribbling through guys and all that kind of stuff,” Ross said. “I wanted to call timeout so bad but we didn’t have any left. I didn’t know where that thing was heading.”
“He’s a special young man,” Ross added. “He was saying in the huddle tonight, ‘we’re going to win this game, we’re going to find a way to win this game.'”
Usher then preserved the Delaware victory with two free throws with 17 seconds left on the clock, giving Delaware its eventually final 67-64 lead.
For much of the second half, the Blue Hens went to a full court press which resulted in 17 second half turnovers from the College of Charleston.
It seemed like it was a Cougars turnover and an Usher bucket. Rinse and repeat for about eight minutes of playing time.
“This was the most gutsy, thrilling game I’ve ever been a part of in my life,” Usher said.
It wasn’t surprising to Saddler that Usher was capable of bring the ‘Hens all the way back.
“I knew in the second half when [Usher] started hitting shots that we were going to have to give him the ball more,” Saddler said. “He’s playing for his grandmom, he’s a competitor.”
Usher has always been known as a prolific scorer. He led Mississippi Valley State and the Southwestern Athletic Conference in scoring last year with 18.8 points per game, before transferring to Delaware over the summer when MVSU received a postseason ban for low APR scores. Usher was a second team All-SWAC selection last year.
“He’s going to get hot,” Saddler said. “He can shoot the ball, he can do it all – he’s a good player.”
While junior guard Jarvis Threatt and sophomore forward Marvin King-Davis remain out for probably the rest of his month, Delaware is going to need Usher to continue his hot streak.
Usher has now scored in double figures in 14 consecutive games. In four games since Threatt and King-Davis were suspended, Usher is averaging 27ppg and 5.5rpg.
“I’m really not too big on personal goals,” Usher said. “I’m just glad me and my team got this win.”