Blue Hens outlast Louisiana Tech
Special to the Whig
— It was a trial by fire, but the rookies stepped up.
The University of Delaware men played their closest home game of the season by far on
Monday night, beating Louisiana
Tech 75-71 in the final contest of the Delaware Invitational.
Due to their recent success,
Blue Hens head coach Martin
Ingelsby placed freshmen Ithiel
Horton and Matt
Veretto into the starting lineup. Each one played nearly the entire contest, and Horton scored in double figures for the fifth straight game.
“I thought star ting them gives us the
most potent offensive group,” Ingelsby said. “It takes a little pressure off Eric Carter and Kevin Anderson. There was really good balance on the offensive end, and that’s a heck of a win for our basketball team.”
Carter notched game highs in points (23) and rebounds (8), while Horton scored 18 points. Darian Bryant and Anderson also reached double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The back-and-forth contest featured six ties and six lead changes, and Delaware’s 75-68 advantage with 5.7 seconds left was the biggest lead for either team. Ingelsby praised his players for staying tough against a Bulldog team that went a perfect 11-for-11 from the foul line and made eight 3-pointers.
“I’m really proud of our zone,” he said. “I thought our zone defense really neutralized some of their athleticism, and their ability to get out in transition. We talked heading into the game about being the more together group for 40 minutes, and I’m proud how we executed on of fense and defense down the stretch. Games like this prepare us for conference play.”
After trailing or tying for the first several minutes, Tech surged ahead 2116, but Horton quickly tied the game with a 3-pointer and two free throws. The Bulldogs went ahead again 25-22, but Carter responded by supplying all the points in Delaware’s 8-0 run — the longest for either team in the game — with two free throws and three straight buckets inside the paint. He remained a force under the hoop through the rest of the game.
“The offense is not predicated on me, but we like to play through the post,” he said. “We feel that gets us in a good flow. The guards did a good job of getting me the ball. (Tech) was doubling in the beginning, but we were finding open guys. They had to loosen up and that’s when I decided to attack.”
Carter’s surge gave the Hens (52) a lead they wouldn’t relinquish through the rest of the first half, as they stayed in front 35-33 at the buzzer.
Delaware maintained a small lead through the first 10 minutes of the second half, but then the Bulldogs (4-3) put together a 10-3 run for a 59-56 advantage with 6:40 left. The momentum was shortlived, however, as a Tech player was charged with a technical foul. Horton knocked down both free throws, and Veretto made his biggest shot of the night, a 3-pointer that put the Hens back on top, 6159. Delaware would not trail again.
“The one thing I love about this team is that we have more weapons,” Ingelsby said. “Ithiel and Matt know they have the green light if they get a good look. We
got a good drive down the baseline, and Matt Veretto gets a wideopen three from the corner. Those guys are continuing to get more comfortable in our offense.”
With the Hens still clinging to a 68-66 lead with less than three minutes to play, Anderson motored his way inside for a pair of layups around a Bulldog turnover to make it 72-66. It was a moment of redemption for the sophomore who had been dogged by foul trouble for much of the second half.
“It’s a little bit of ‘pick your poison’ with how you want to defend us, and he got some driving areas,” Ingelsby said. “Sometimes he can be on the ball a little too much, but those were some big drives for him that helped us win the game.”
The Blue Hens still led 72-68 with a minute left. Tech had three chances to cut into that lead on its next trip down the floor, but Carter blocked a shot, and then the Bulldogs missed a 3-pointer and a layup. They were forced to
foul Carter, who hit one of two bonus foul shots to make it 73-68 with 17.8 seconds left. After Tech missed again, Horton, who like Carter had been in the middle of everything all night, made his last two free throws to finish a perfect 7-for-7.
“I’ve just been trusting the system and trusting what Coach Ingelsby has in store for me,” Horton said. “We just wanted to come out in the second half and stay strong.”
Oliver Powell led the Bulldogs with 14 points. Incredibly, both teams went 26-for-47 from the floor for a 55.3 shooting percentage.
The Hens were happy to end their homestand with a win after falling apart in the second half against UNC Greensboro last Friday.
“This is definitely a statement win,” Carter said. “We kinda got smacked around by UNCG so it’s good to bounce back and get the win, and hopefully we can get it rolling up to UMES and Columbia.”
Delaware sophomore guard Kevin Anderson (1) drives past a defender during the Blue Hens’ 75-71 win over visiting Louisiana Tech on Monday.