Charleston hands Blue Hens third straight loss 83-75

Kevin Anderson, who finished with 17 points, drives past a Charleston defender in Thursday night’s game. Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell

NEWARK — Martin Ingelsby would be the first to agree that maybe his team got a little bit ahead of itself.

Picked to finish only seventh in the CAA this winter, Delaware’s men’s basketball team found itself in third place halfway through the league schedule.

In that regard, the last couple weeks have been a return to reality for the Blue Hens.

On Thursday night, Delaware dropped its third game in a row when highly-regarded Charleston pulled away to an 83-75 over the Hens at the Carpenter Center.

The Cougars (8-4 CAA, 19-6 overall) hit Delaware (6-6 CAA, 14-11 overall) with a barrage of four straight three-pointers to open up a double-digit lead midway through the second half. All told, Charleston was 8-for-13 from three-point range in the second half, getting those eight threes from six different players.

Charleston, which has now won seven in a row against Delaware, eventually led by as many as 16 points with 5:56 remaining.

“The whole game was back and forth until that moment they starting hitting big shot after big shot,” said senior guard Darian Bryant. “We couldn’t weather the storm coming down the stretch. They’re a very good basketball team — credit them. We couldn‘t get stops when we needed it.”

“They’ve got men,” Ingelsby said about the Cougars. “We’ve got some young guys that are experiencing CAA basketball against a really good team. I hope we can use this as a reference point for our guys moving forward.”

Early on, Delaware played well enough to open up a 24-14 lead to start the game. The Hens were still up 32-23 with 3:38 left in the first half.

But Charleston started to flex its muscles late in the first half, ending the period on a 10-2 run. When Grant Riller drove in for a dunk with four seconds left, the Cougars trailed just 34-33 at halftime.

Blue Hen senior guard Darian Bryant looks to get off a shot against the Cougars. Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell

Charleston then took the lead for good at 37-36 just two minutes into the second half.

Riller, the CAA’s second-leading scorer, finished with a game-high 20 points as five Cougars netted nine points or more.

It didn’t help that Blue Hen center Eric Carter is still limited by a back injury. The senior, who sat out Delaware’s loss at William & Mary on Saturday, finished with just eight points and four rebounds in 28 minutes.

That marked just the third time this season that Carter didn’t reach double figures in scoring. It couldn’t have made his back feel any better when he had Charleston’s 6-foot-10, 270-pound Nick Harris leaning on him in the low post at times.

“When we’re not able to efficiently score inside and out, it’s hard for us,” said Ingelsby. “I thought we had some opportunities early in the second half with Eric in the post. … I think he’s a little rusty from not having played in about seven days but we need his presence in there.”

“I think it’s bothering him a little bit,” Bryant said about Carter’s injury. “You can kind of see out there he’s not moving 100 percent. He’ll take it day by day. Hopefully, on Saturday, he’s back to 100 percent.”

Delaware did get 17 points apiece from Kevin Anderson and Ryan Allen as well as 14 from Bryant.

The Hens made a late-game run, closing within 81-75 with 22.8 seconds left. That’s where the comeback ended, however.

In the 10-team CAA standings, Delaware is still tied for fifth place. The biggest thing for the Hens is not finishing seventh or lower and having to play in the CAA Tournament play-in round.

Under the present circumstances, however, the only thing Ingelsby wants his players thinking about is their next opponent. Delaware hosts UNC-Wilmington on Saturday at 7 p.m.

“We haven’t talked about standings,” said Ingelsby. “I think our guys are smart to know Charleston was ahead of us. It’s a group that experienced success early — and maybe didn’t handle it the right way. That’s something I’ve really tried to help us with.

“We’re in a little bit of a rut now. It’s amazing what one win can do for the psyche of a group.”

Extra points

Carter is 19 points shy of becoming the 35th player in UD history to score 1,000 points. …. Allen has scored in double figures in 10 of 11 games. … Charleston out-rebounded the Hens, 34-25.

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