Delaware men fall at Drexel to seal last place CAA finish

PHILADELPHIA — It’s official now.

Delaware has the worst men’s basketball team in the Colonial Athletic Association this season.

The Blue Hens doomed themselves to a 10th-place finish in the league with a lackluster 74-64 loss to rival Drexel at the Daskalakis Center on Thursday night.

Fittingly, the Hens accepted their fate with a shrug.Delaware basketball-Monte Ross-2

“It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is,” said Marvin King-Davis, the lone scholarship senior on the roster. “There’s nothing we can do to change it.”

“We are what we are,” echoed coach Monte’ Ross. “We’re not going to make excuses for anything. We’re in the situation that we’re in.”

In a proud, long-running rivalry, the only thing at stake on Thursday was avoiding the CAA basement. The Dragons (3-14 CAA, 5-23 overall) earned the No. 9 spot thanks to an impressive second-half run.

Delaware (2-15 CAA, 7-21) was actually leading 41-40 with 11:12 remaining when Drexel reeled off 12 straight points. The Hens never got closer than eight points the rest of the night.

The numbers were pretty clear-cut: The Dragons shot a sizzling 66.7 percent in the second half — including 4-of-6 shooting from three-point range — while Delaware shot just 35.3 percent (12-for-34).

“I thought we played awful defense,” said King-Davis. “They had a couple open threes but a lot of it was layups. And then, on the other end, we missed multiple layups. I feel like that’s where we really lost the game.”

“They were making shots,” said sophomore guard Kory Holden. “When the other team’s scoring and you can’t score. … it’s kind of hard to come back.”

King-Davis and Holden took care of most of Delaware’s offense again. King-Davis netted a game-high 24 points while Holden added 18 points and seven assists.

Between them, the two players combined to take 37 of the Hens’ 58 shots.

That formula looked like it might be enough early the contest when Delaware jumped out to a 9-2 advantage. The Hens still led 29-27 at halftime.

All told, the game featured 11 lead changes and eight ties.

But Delaware didn’t seem to have much fight left in the final 10 minutes.

Of course, it was just two seasons ago that the Hens won both the CAA regular-season and tournament titles.

Delaware coach Monte’ Ross pointed out that, even at 2-15 in the conference this year, the Hens still own the best combined CAA record over the past five seasons.

He thinks Delaware’s injuries were just too much to overcome this winter.

“I’ve told those guys all year long that, we have enough in here to win,” said Ross. “Now, is that true? It’s not always my job to be truthful with those guys. Sometimes I have to fool them. … That’s all part of coaching.

“At our level, when you lose the quality of guys that we lost … the level just drops off. So that’s where we are.

“I’m not at all discouraged,” he said later. “What we’ve been able to build this program to over the last four years, we’ll be able to get back to that next year.”

Delaware finishes up the regular season with a 2 p.m. home game against Elon on Saturday. The Hens will then face the No. 7 seed — either Northeastern or Charleston — in the opening round of the CAA Tournament next Friday.

That contest will be played at 8:30 p.m. at Baltimore’s Royal Farms Arena.

“We understand where we are,” said Ross. “We’ll go down to the tournament and we’ll be the 10th seed because of losing this game. But there’s still an opportunity there.

“We’ll keep grinding this thing until they tell us they have to collect the uniforms and we can’t grind it anymore.”

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