Hens top William and Mary for CAA men's basketball championship
9:11 p.m., March 10, 2014--In thrilling fashion, the University of Delaware topped the College of William and Mary 75-74 on Monday night at the Baltimore Arena to claim the 2014 Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball championship and a place in the NCAA Division I tournament.
An NCAA Selection Show watch party will be held beginning at 5:15 p.m., Sunday, March 16, in Gym 2 of the Carpenter Sports Building. For details, see the website.
The Blue Hens opened up a lead early in the second half, saw it disappear, then stormed back in the last minute and a half to take the victory.
As a result, UD will be returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999. The team will find out where it will be heading and who it will play on Sunday, March 16, when the field is announced.
UD’s Carl Baptiste was nearly unstoppable inside, scoring a career-high 24 points, including the winning bucket with 13 seconds left, to lift the No. 1 seed Blue Hens (25-9) to their fifth straight victory and first ever CAA tournament crown.
But the Hens needed a huge stop in the final seconds and they got it. William and Mary guard Marcus Thornton, who finished with 22 points, had the chance to win the game in the waning seconds but his 20-foot jumper was off the mark and the horn sounded with the ball in the air.
The victory set off a wild on-court celebration as a large throng of UD students and fans stormed the court to join their fellow Blue Hens.
“I can’t say enough about this group, and the way they just stick with it," said UD head coach Monté Ross, the CAA coach of the year who had led the Hens to their first CAA tournament title game appearance since he took over the helm in 2006-07. "To be down six late and just keep playing, I couldn’t be prouder of their resiliency. I love these guys, they are tremendous. To cap it off like this is really special."
Tournament most valuable player Jarvis Threatt had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Hens while Devon Saddler contributed 16 points and five assists to lead yet another balanced effort.
“I wish I could give the (MVP) trophy to the whole team," said Threatt, a junior guard who scored 59 points, pulled 21 rebounds, and dished out 14 assists in the three tournament games. "To be named most outstanding player is just a blessing, and I couldn’t be more proud of our seniors.”
Delaware led for the entire second half before the No. 3 seed Tribe used a 7-0 run to take their first lead since late in the opening half at 69-65 with 3:30 left to play.
A Threatt three-point play with 51 seconds left pulled Delaware to within 74-73 and the Hens got possession back after Thornton missed a jumper with 25 seconds left and Davon Usher pulled down the rebound.
Delaware called a timeout to set up a play and it worked perfectly as Saddler found Baptiste inside and the senior laid it in for the winning basket. Baptiste finished the night hitting 9 of 11 shots from the field and pulling down eight rebounds.
William and Mary (20-12), making its third CAA tournament final appearance since 2008, also got 16 points from Tim Rusthoven and 14 points off the bench from Omar Prewitt.
For complete coverage, see BlueHens.com.
Photos by Mark Campbell