Banged-up King-Davis lifts Blue Hens past South Florida

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Delaware’s Kory Holden, who scored a game-high 23 points, drives to the basket in Thursday night’s game. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

NEWARK — Marvin King-Davis shuffled into the interview room like an old man.

He felt like one, too.

The Delaware senior forward has been playing with a pair of sprained ankles for about a week.

“They’re taped real tight so there’s only a little pain,” said King-Davis. “It’s nothing I can’t play through. They’ll hurt in the morning.”

Besides, with the Blue Hens’ men’s basketball team down to just nine players in uniform, it’s not like King-Davis could take the night off, even if he wanted to.

Instead, he went out and gutted out a 16-point, 18-rebound performance as short-handed Delaware brushed aside South Florida, 67-58, for its second straight win at the Carpenter Center on Thursday night.

While sophomore guard Kory Holden netted a game-high 23 points, it was the Hens’ ability to beat the bigger and stronger Bulls (2-6) on the glass that made the difference. Behind King-Davis’ career-high 18 boards, Delaware (4-2) outrebounded USF by a considerable, 48-34, margin.

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The Blue Hens’ Marvin King-Davis tries to block a shot by South Florida’s Chris Perry. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

“I thought it was a tremendous, tremendous gutcheck,” said coach Monte’ Ross. “I thought they really, really showed some tremendous toughness. That was a really big and athletic team that we just played. To be able to outrebound them the way that we did was very impressive.

“I couldn’t be prouder of these guys. We ask them to do certain things and they just step up and they do it — no matter who’s there. Whoever’s turn it is to do it, just does it.”

As for King-Davis, Ross called it the best game of the senior’s career. It was his fourth double-double of the season.

“And he was pursuing rebounds, it wasn’t like they were just coming in his area,” said Ross.

“It’s very satisfying,” said King-Davis. “That’s a good win for us. We just put our foot down. We didn’t want anyone to ‘out-tough’ us. Rebounds are all about heart, Coach Ross says.”

Fellow big man Mo Jeffers added 13 points and seven rebounds with Cazmon Hayes contributing eight points and eight rebounds.

The Hens took control of the contest by scoring the final 11 points of the first half to open up a 33-19 advantage at intermission. Holden hurried the ball down court and tossed in a three-pointer at the buzzer to give Delaware its 14-point advantage.

“It was definitely a good feeling for me because a lot of my shots weren’t falling tonight,” said Holden, who was only 5-fo-17 from the floor. “Once that shot went down, I knew it was going to be a good ending for me.”

Holden did sink a pair of threes but it was his 11-of-14 foul shooting that got him to his season-high 23 points.

USF did close to within 41-37 with 10 still minutes remaining. But the Hens answered with a 16-3 run to open up their biggest advantage at 57-40 with only 4:46 on the clock.

Delaware led for more than 36 minutes of the 40-minute contest.

With three scholarship players already injured, the Hens have now temporarily lost senior walk-on Sean Locke to a sprained knee ligament. Locke is one of the team captains.

The Hens’ five starters all played between 35 and 40 minutes on Thursday. They’re just trying to take it all with a sense of humor.

“I tell them, ‘Look, just play,’” said Ross. “It’s only 40 minutes — it’s not really that long. Some of them are really tired.

‘Our thing is, give us a fist when you’re tired and we’ll get you out. I’ve ignored the fist more times this year than I ever have. I’m just so proud of these guys, the way that they fight.”

“I didn’t even know until today that he (Locke) wasn’t playing,” said Holden. “We’re just dropping like flies out here.

“Coach is preaching we’re going to be facing a lot of adversity this year. We’ve just got to get everybody together and keep playing hard no matter what adversity we’re going through.”

Free throws

Delaware made its first 11 foul shots before going 29-of-37 from the line. ,,, Last season, the Hens didn’t win their fourth game until Jan. 21. … Hayes and guard Anthony Mosley were both credited with playing the full 40 minutes although Mosley did come out for a brief rest. … The Hens are 3-0 at home for the first time since the 2011-12 season. … Delaware doesn’t play at home again until Jan. 2 when it hosts James Madison. The Hens play six straight road games with its next contest at Columbia on Sunday.

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