DELAWARE 79, UNCW 78
WILMINGTON, NC Feb. 23, 2013 – Colonial Athletic Association scoring leader Devon Saddler poured in 24 points and slippery sophomore guard Jarvis Threatt added a career-high 21 as second-place Delaware escaped with a narrow 79-78 victory over UNCW in conference men’s basketball play Saturday night at Trask Coliseum.
The Blue Hens, who snapped an eight-game losing streak in Wilmington, won their second straight to improve to 16-13 overall and 11-5 in the CAA. UD gained a sweep of the regular season series after beating the Seahawks, 71-56, on Feb. 2 in Newark. The Seahawks lost their second game in a row and stand 10-18 and 5-11 heading into the final two games of the season.
Saddler, a 6-2, 210-pound shooter from Aberdeen, Md., went 10-of-20 from the floor and played all but one minute for the Blue Hens, who shot a sizzling 62.1 percent in the first half before cooling off slightly down the stretch. Threatt matched his career-high with 12 rebounds and sophomore guard Kyle Anderson chipped in 12 for UD.
Senior forward Keith Rendleman paced the Seahawks with 26 points and 12 rebounds for his 18th double-double of the season and the 40th of his storied career. He fouled out with 1:06 remaining after anchoring four players in double digits. Junior guard Chris Dixon scored 12 and sophomore forward Cedrick Williams and sophomore guard Freddie Jackson contributed 11 apiece.
Four of UD’s previous four games had been decided by two points or less and this one was no different. After senior forward Josh Brinkley made the second of two free throws with just over a minute left to play to give UD a 79-78 edge, UNCW’s Dylan Sherwood missed a jumper and the Blue Hens returned the favor at the other end of the floor.
Dixon grabbed the rebound with 11 seconds remaining and following a timeout, the junior college transfer’s 12-footer on the left elbow careened off the rim and the two teams scrambled for the rebound as time expired.
Both teams shot over 50 percent from the floor, but the failure to cash in at the free throw line hurt the Seahawks, who went just 7-of-18 at the charity stripe. The Blue Hens shot 54.5 percent overall and UNCW made 52.5 percent.
UD built a 44-36 lead at intermission after making 62.1 percent from the floor, including 6-of-10 from long distance, and remained in control until the Seahawks gained some momentum midway through the second half.
Brinkley’s bucket over Sherwood at 11:45 gave UD a 60-57 advantage, but Rendleman had a monster dunk and Craig Ponder’s pretty triple on the left wing gave UNCW its first lead of the night, 62-60, with 11:01 remaining.
The Blue Hens battled back and grabbed a 78-76 advantage when Saddler connected on a floater in the paint at 2:38. Freddie Jackson then converted a fast break layup with 1:20 on the clock, setting up another dramatic finish for seventh-year skipper Monte Ross and his club.
UD came out firing in the opening minutes, making six of its first eight shots, to build a 13-8 lead at the first media timeout. Veteran Jamelle Hagins slipped inside for a reverse layup at 14:26 to give the Blue Hens a quick five-point edge.
The Blue Hens remained hot and stretched the margin to 23-14 on a baby hook in the lane by Carl Batiste at 10:12. UD made 11 of its first 15 field goals to take command early.
The Seahawks responded, however, with a 9-0 spurt to tie the score. Rendleman converted an athletic tip dunk to start the rally and Tanner Milson’s three-pointer in front of the UD bench knotted the score at 23-all with 7:47 left in the first period.
UD answered with back-to-back triples by Saddler and Anderson to get the score back to 32-25 at 5:40 and took a 37-27 advantage at 4:09 after an 11-2 run. The Blue Hens then took a 44-36 lead into the break.
The Seahawks conclude their home schedule on Wednesday, Feb. 27, when William & Mary visits Trask Coliseum. The Blue Hens travel to Hempstead, N.Y., on Wednesday to battle the Pride at 7 p.m.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks still lead the all-time series by a 16-7 margin…UNCW now stands 8-2 against the Blue Hens at Trask Coliseum…The two teams still have not played an overtime game in the 23-game series…It was Ross’ first win at Trask Coliseum since taking over the UD program seven years ago…UD won the rebounding battle, 32-29…The Seahawks entered the game averaging 15.0 turnovers per game and committed a season-low two miscues…Williams had three blocks…It was the first time Rendleman had fouled out since the first matchup with the Blue Hens on Feb. 2 in Newark…Threatt added five assists to his full stat sheet…Rendleman went a sub-par 4-of-11 at the free throw line…The Seahawks shot 61.5 percent in the second half….Both teams scored 32 points in the paint.