Delaware Holds Off Towson, 72-65
RICHMOND, Va. - Devon Saddler had a game-high 28 points, including a pair of key second-half three-point field goals and six late free throws, as Delaware held off Towson for a 72-65 victory in the second game of the opening round of the Virginia 529 Colonial Athletic Association Men's Basketball Tournament Friday at the Richmond Coliseum.
Fifth-seeded Delaware (18-12) advances to a 2:30 p.m. Saturday tournament quarterfinal meeting with fourth-seeded Old Dominion, which had a first-round tournament bye. Towson, the tournament's 12th-seed, finished the season with a 1-31 record.
Saddler, a second-team all-conference honoree, hit on seven of 19 shots from the field, including four of nine from three-point range, and on 10 of 12 free throws. The 20-point scoring effort was his 14th of the season and helped the Blue Hens win their ninth straight game.
Delaware needed nearly all of Saddler's points, as Towson - led by Robert Nwankwo's career highs of 27 points and 20 rebounds - erased a 18-point deficit to tie the score with just less than eight minutes remaining. However, Saddler put his team in front to stay 56-53 with a three-pointer with 7:19 left and connected on a another three-point field goal with the shot clock expiring at 6:06 for a 59-55 Blue Hens' advantage.
Towson got as close as 59-57 on two Nwankwo free throws at 5:48, but a 7-2 Delaware scoring run gave the Blue Hens a 66-59 lead with 2:24 remaining. Saddler then hit on two throws at the 1:39, 30.3-second, and 8.7-second marks to preserve Delaware's lead.
Delaware, with Saddler and Jamelle Hagins scoring six points each, led 15-7 six minutes into the game, and the Blue Hens' advantage reached 28-10 with 6:34 left in the first half and was 36-25 at halftime.
Nwankwo, a league all-defensive honoree, had 19 second-half points, including 13 while the Tigers were getting to within 52-51 with nine minutes to play. His 20 rebounds tied a tournament record set by VCU's Larry Sanders in 2009 and it was the first 20-point, 20-rebound performance in the 27-year tournament history. Overall he hit on eight of 22 shots from the field and on 11 of 15 free throws and had 12 offensive rebounds.
Saddler led three Blue Hens in double figures in scoring. Jarvis Threatt had 15 points, including hitting on nine of 11 free throws, and Josh Brinkley had 14 points and five rebounds. The Blue Hens shot 38.5 percent (20-52) from the field and connected on 27 of 38 free throws.
Towson shot 46 percent (16-35) during the second half after hitting on only 21 percent (7-33) of its shots during the opening period and had a 51-33 rebounding edge. The Tigers shot 33.8 percent overall (23-68) and also got 13 points and three assists from Kris Walden.