by David A. Willauer
February 6, 2014, NEWARK, Del. (ISN) – Sparked by a 42-point effort by Davon Usher, the University of Delaware men’s basketball squad finished off a wild comeback Wednesday night as the Blue Hens rallied back from 20 points down in the final nine minutes and posted an exhilarating 67-64 Colonial Athletic Association victory over the College of Charleston at the Bob Carpenter Center.
Usher recorded the highest point total by a Blue Hen player in 50 years as he knocked down 14 of 20 shots from the field, hit three three-pointers, and converted 11 of 14 from the foul line. He scored 30 of his points in the second half and also added seven steals and four rebounds.
The CAA-leading Blue Hens (18-7, 10-0 CAA) remained unbeaten in league play as they recorded their 11th straight victory and won for the ninth straight time at home. The 11-game win streak is the longest by a Delaware team since the 1998-99 squad put a 13-game win streak together on the way to an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Delaware trailed 51-31 with 8:52 remaining before embarking on the improbable comeback. The Blue Hens finally gained the lead on a steal and fastbreak layup by Usher with 31 seconds left. He then hit two free throws 14 seconds later to seal the victory.
College of Charleston (12-12, 4-5 CAA), a first-year member of the CAA, had the chance to tie the game but Joe Chealey missed a three-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer. Adjehi Baru led the Cougars with 11 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out with 3:26 left while Anthony Stitt contributed 11 points and David Wishon added 10 points.
The Cougars outrebounded the Hens 38-17 for the game but committed 26 turnovers, including 17 in the second half and seven over the final five minutes of play. The College also missed 8 of its final 11 free throws over the final 4:52 as it squandered the big lead.
Devon Saddler, who was honored before the game for setting the Delaware record for career points Monday night vs. Northeastern, added 17 points for the Blue Hens. Only four Blue Hens scored in the game and only three players managed to pull a rebound.
“This is the most amazing game I’ve ever seen,” said Delaware eighth-year head coach Monté Ross. “We have a confident group that really sticks together and always believes it will find a way to win. Davon and Devon both made play after play down the stretch and I couldn’t be prouder of the way they competed. This win is for our fans. Our student section was absolutely tremendous.
The crowd of 2,403 was euphoric over the final nine minutes as the Blue Hens rallied back for the win. The student section stormed the court after the victory to celebrate with the team.
“We are a tough team and we just keep fighting,” said Usher, who was playing with a heavy heart as his grandmother passed away on Tuesday. “This is the best game of my basketball career.”
Usher, a senior guard from South Baltimore, Md. and a first-year transfer from Mississippi Valley State, surpassed his previous college career-high of 35 points vs. Northwestern last year while at MVSU.
Usher’s 42 points was a record for a Delaware player at the BCC and the fourth highest scoring total in school history. The point total was the most by a Blue Hen player since All-American Dave Sysko netted 42 points against Lafayette on Feb. 29, 1964.
Delaware, which scored 48 first half points in an 80-67 win over Northeastern Monday night, managed just 22 at the break in this game and went into intermission trailing 28-22.
Things got worse quickly in the second half as the Cougars outscored the Blue Hens 16-7 over the first eight minutes to take a 44-29 lead with 12:22 left and used another 7-0 run to take its biggest lead at 51-31 with 8:52 remaining.
The Delaware comeback started from there as the Blue Hens used a fullcourt press to rattle the Cougars and finish off the rally. Charleston led by 11 at 59-48 with 4:38 left but two baskets and a free throw by Usher and dunk from Carl Baptiste pulled UD to within four at 59-55.
The Cougars pushed the lead back to six at 63-57 with 2:33 left, but the Hens followed with their final comeback as Usher hit two free throws, Saddler knocked down a jumper, and Usher made a steal and followed it with a fastbreak layup with 31 seconds left to put the Hens up for good at 65-64. C of C’s Chealey missed a jumper with 22 seconds left and Usher was fouled on the rebound. He then knocked down both free throws to push the lead to 67-64.
Three-point attempts by Stitt and Chealey over the final seven seconds were both off the mark.
Delaware will return to action next Wednesday, February 12, when the Hens host James Madison at 7 p.m.
COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON (12-12, 4-5 CAA)
Baru, 4-7 3-4 11, Thomas, 3-5 3-3 9, Hall, 3-7 1-3 7, Johnson, 2-3 1-2 7, Stitt, 5-7 0-0 11, Chealey, 2-7 2-4 7, Johnson, 0-0 0-0 0, Barry, 1-1 0-0 2, Wishon, 3-3 4-7 10, Totals, 23-40 14-23 64.
DELAWARE (18-7, 10-0 CAA)
Pinkard, 0-1 0-0 0, Baptiste, 2-6 3-4 7, Usher, 14-20 11-14 42, Saddler, 6-17 5-9 17, Anderson, 0-5 0-0 0, Harris, 0-0 0-0 0, Jeffers, 0-0 0-0 0, Hayes, 0-2 1-3 1, Williams, 0-0 0-0 0, Totals, 22-51 20-30 67.
Halftime Score: College of Charleston 28, Delaware 22; Three-Point Field Goals: CofC – 4-8 (Johnson, 2-3, Stitt, 1-2, Chealey, 1-2, Hall, 0-1), D – 3-15 (Usher, 3-7, Pinkard, 0-1, Saddler, 0-2, Anderson, 0-4, Hayes, 0-1); Rebounds: CofC – 38 (Baru, 10), D – 17 (Baptiste, 5); Assists: CofC – 7 (Stitt, 3), D – 6 (Saddler, 4); Fouled Out: Baru (CC), Thomas (CC), Harris (D); Total Fouls: CofC – 23, D – 18; Attendance: 2,403.