Healthier Carter leads Hens by UNCW 70-66 to snap 3-game slump

The Hens’ Kevin Anderson netted all 14 of his points in the second half. Delaware sports information/Jeff Fannon

NEWARK — For over a week now, Eric Carter has been hurting.

The Delaware center said he could barely get out of bed last week on a road trip because his back was in so much pain.

And Carter clearly wasn’t his usually-reliable self in the Blue Hens’ loss to Charleston on Thursday night.

Finally, though, Carter put up his standard double-double and Delaware broke its three-game losing streak with a 70-66 win over UNC-Wilmington in CAA men’s basketball at the Carpenter Center on Saturday night.

True, the Hens (7-6 CAA, 15-11 overall) did allow things to get too tight in the closing minutes — again — considering they were up by 20 midway through the second half.

But Carter especially wasn’t going to complain too much after posting 12 points and 13 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season.

“If I’m good to go, I’m going to go,” said Carter. “I was probably at about 50 percent (against Charleston) but I know these guys need me and I need to be out there to help them win. Day by day I’ve been feeling better and I’m pretty much back to 100 percent now.

“I’ll do anything for this team. I’ll play with something broken. It doesn’t really matter at this point. They look to me for leadership out there and I do my best.”

“Tonight, I thought there was a semblance of the old Eric Carter,” said coach Martin Ingelsby. “He was moving well, he was scoring efficiently around the basket. He was rebounding the basketball. It was nice to see that as we kind of head into the homestretch.”

Four Hens scored in double figures. Besides Carter, Ryan Allen (15 points), Kevin Anderson (14) and Ryan Johnson (10) all made some big baskets in the game.

Anderson netted all 14 of his points in the second half as Delaware’s lead ballooned to 59-39 with 10:35 remaining in the contest.

But Johnson also made some big plays, coming up with two steals and sinking a pair of foul shots in the final 24 seconds. The 10 points were also his second-most of the season.

A 24-year-old graduate transfer, Johnson is on his fourth school in five years. He started on Saturday for the first time in a while.

“I think he’s earned it (the start) with how he’s played,” said Ingelsby. “He’s a great teammate. He’s one of those guys that has a really good personality. He connects with our group. I think they respect him because he’s been around.”

“We’ve struggled coming out in the second half,” said Johnson. “But, as older guys, we just challenged the guys — like ‘Let’s try to play the best basketball we have all year.’ The guys accepted the challenge.”

Indeed, when Delaware’s advantage grew to 20 points, it looked the Hens might finally have a comfortable win. Delaware was still up 67-50 with only 4:05 remaining.

That was enough time for the Seahawks (4-9 CAA, 8-18 overall) to make a run, however.

UNC-Wilmington got as close at 69-66 with four seconds on the clock. Anderson, though, made one of two free throws to seal the victory.

Delaware was just 7-of-16 from the foul line in the contest.

“I do think our guys were staying together,” said Ingelsby. “They had some good huddles. I thought our communication was really good. We’ve got to continue to go through those moments to be better.

“We’ve got to find a way when we have a lead — and maybe a double-digit lead — to continue to play the same way offensively that we did for those 35 minutes to get the lead. We stall a little bit. And that’s an area we have to get better at.”

Free throws

It took three tries but the Hens finally bettered their win totals for all last season — both overall (15) and CAA (7). … Delaware has won four straight meetings with the Seahawks in a series that UNCW still leads 22-15. … Caarter is now seven points shy of reaching 1,000 for his career. … Delaware returns to action on Thursday with a 7 p.m. game at Towson.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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