Can anyone explain to me this University of Delaware men’s basketball team? The Hens can exhilarate and madden their fans all within the same segment of basketball. Thursday’s double-overtime thriller against Drexel seemed to hit all the highs and lows on the emotional roller coaster for Hens admirers. For five minutes Delaware would look impenetrable on defense, and then it would be unable to buy a stop for the next five. On offense, things were just as unpredictable minute-to-minute.
When it was all said and done though, UD had outlasted its rivals from the City of Brotherly Love for the second time this year. In 90 minutes of basketball this season, the teams have been separated by a mere four points. Fortunately for Delaware, its record is 2-0 in these encounters, marking their first season-sweep of Drexel in 13 years.
Devon Saddler scored a career-high 31 points while senior Jamelle Hagins added 14 points and 18 rebounds. The effort included the 1,000th board of Hagins’ collegiate career. But it was the center’s controversial blocked shot in the final seconds that preserved the win for UD.
With his team trailing by two, Drexel guard Frantz Massanet had the chance to send the contest into a third overtime on the game’s final possession. The guard’s short jumper in the lane was off the mark as the final buzzer sounded, allowing Delaware to prevail 73-71.
Dragons coach Bruiser Flint was irate as the shot fell short because he felt Hagins had tipped it on its way down. Replays showed the floater had in fact been deflected and it appeared to be on the dissent when Delaware’s center made contact with the ball. But that’s not how the officials saw it, and it is not how the record book will reflect it.
This win does not completely erase the bitter taste of Sunday’s setback, when the Hens gave up an alley-oop dunk with 0.2 seconds remaining, letting James Madison turn a one-point lead into a one-point Delaware loss. After all, the Hens still displayed the same inconsistencies that cost themselves dearly against JMU.
But sports are all about the final result, and Thursday’s final scoreboard read in favor of UD. Monte Ross’ team needed this win desperately and they got it. Now they need to build on these positive feelings Saturday when they take on UNC Wilmington in North Carolina. The Hens have lost nine straight at Trask Coliseum, but if they are serious about having success at the Richmond Coliseum in March, that is exactly the kind of streak they need to be able to end.
For more thoughts on Delaware’s double-OT win tune into Blue Hens Live Friday at 5 p.m. on 1290 The Ticket.