In the rematch of a game played earlier this season, the Delaware Blue Hens exacted a measure of revenge on Charleston Southern, holding off a late rally by the Buccaneers to win, 85-80, Tuesday night at the CSU Fieldhouse.
In a reversal of the game played earlier this season, Delaware nearly blew a 20-point second-half lead before holding off the late charge. In the game played on Nov. 10, it was Charleston Southern that opened up a big lead early and held on for the 95-93 win.
Senior guard Kyle Anderson scored 29 points, hitting 8 of 10 shots from beyond the arc, to lead the Blue Hens (5-3). Jarvis Threatt added 18 points, while Davon Usher and Carl Baptiste each scored 17 points. Delaware was 11 of 22 from 3-point range and converted 20 of 26 free throw attempts.
The Buccaneers dropped to 3-4 heading into an 11-day break for exams. CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh credited the Blue Hens for their performance but sounded like a coach searching for answers.
“We have a lot of work to do,” said Radebaugh. “We didn’t come out with the type of energy, with the type of mental and physical toughness that it takes to compete with a team like Delaware. We came out sleep-walking and extremely flat. That’s the third time this season we have come out flat, and that’s my responsibility to figure out why we do that. It’s a disappointing loss and a disappointing performance.”
Guards Sheldon Strickland and Will Saunders led CSU’s offensive attack with 15 points each. Arlon Harper added 13 for the Bucs, which shot 41 percent from the field but made only 6 of 25 3-point attempts. CSU came into the game averaging 12 3s per game and shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc.
CSU junior point guard Saah Nimley scored nine points, becoming the 19th player in school history to score 1,000 career points.
The Bucs opened the game ice cold from the field, connecting on only four of their first 18 shots from the floor, including a 1-for-7 start from beyond the arc. CSU trailed, 15-11, with 11:21 to play in the opening half.
Harper hit a 3-pointer with 7:46 to play in the half to give CSU a 22-20 lead, but the Blue Hens went on an 18-4 run to grab a 38-26 lead with 2:11 to play. Anderson finished the half with five 3-pointers, and Delaware carried a 40-33 lead into the half.
The pace quickened considerably early in the second half, especially for Delaware. The Blue Hens hit 5 of 6 shots, including a pair of 3-pointers from Anderson, in the first three minutes to open up a 55-35 lead with 17:11 to play in the contest.
After the Bucs rallied to trim the lead to 15 at 55-40, Anderson hit his eighth trey of the night to push the lead back to 18 at 60-42.
A 13-6 run cut the margin to 66-55 with 9:45 remaining in the game. Nimley’s layup to score his 1,000th point made it 73-61 with 7:31 to play.
Matt Kennedy’s 3-pointer with 2:46 left cut the margin to 81-73. Kennedy added a layup and Strickland hit a long three to bring the Bucs to within four at 82-78 with 1:24 to play.
The Bucs had possession with less than a minute remaining but failed to convert. Baptiste hit three free throws in the final 21 seconds to seal the victory.
“I’m not frustrated as much as I am disappointed,” said Radebaugh. “We have to find the answers. This team has not achieved to the level it should have so far. We have to figure out a way to get these guys motivated and engaged early in these games.”
Charleston Southern will hit the court next on Dec. 14 at Alabama as part of a three-game road trip before Christmas.