Delaware State men fall to Washington Adventist

Delaware State’s Pinky Wiley (left) looks for help while being guarded by Washington Adventist’s Dwayne Garner. Special to the State News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — The Delaware State University men’s basketball team cannot wait to leave 2019 in the past.

For the Hornets’ visitors in Dover Monday night, 2019 is a year they will never forget.

Delaware State fell to Washington Adventist, a NAIA Division II school from Tacoma Park, Md., 78-76 in a nonconference contest at Memorial Hall. The Hornets end the nonconference portion of their schedule at 1-13 overall.

It was the first time Delaware State fell to a non-Division I team since a 67-64 defeat to Division II Cheney University on Nov. 15, 2008.

Washington Adventist entered the game ranked No. 12 in NAIA Division II. The Shock (11-3) had already defeated a Division I team this season, DSU’s Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference rivals Howard, 71-68, on Nov. 5.

“Now it’s not a fluke,” said Washington Adventist coach Patrick Crarey, II. “People could be like, ‘Oh, they beat them but it was a fluke, they weren’t ready.’ But there’s no fluke. If you think it’s a fluke, put us on the schedule.”

Delaware State second-year coach Eric Skeeters said the Hornets knew how dangerous of a game this could be, based on how the Shock performed against Howard.

“They’re 2-0 in the MEAC now,” Skeeters said. “It’s not like we took them lightly. We knew what they were capable of coming in. But when you manage a lead for 36 minutes, now the hardest part comes — finishing that last bang of the hammer. We’re still figuring out how to win a game.”

Delaware State led by as much as nine early in the second half but Washington Adventist continued to chip away at its deficit until Xavier Sewell’s bucket in the paint tied the game at 70-70 with 3:41 left.

The Hornets came up empty on the other end, which led to a fastbreak for the Shock and the go-ahead basket by Derrick Hopkins. L.J. Stansbury then went one-of-two from the line to draw Delaware State within 72-71.

The teams traded baskets and then Dwayne Garner converted a pair of free throws for a 76-73 Washington Adventist advantage.

Delaware State’s leading scorer John Crosby missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with nine seconds to go. The Shock added two more free throws before Crosby banked in a consolation three-pointer at the buzzer.

“It says something about our guys and that they fight hard,” said Crarey about the statement Washington Adventist made. “We got guys from the DMV area, from Montgomery County, from (Prince George’s) County, from D.C., from Philly, from Jersey and they play for each other, not themselves. They’re not out here trying to be cool, trying to do a bunch of stuff that doesn’t involve winning because if it doesn’t involve winning, we don’t tolerate it.”

The Hornets begin MEAC play Saturday against Morgan State with a 2 p.m. tipoff. Delaware State has yet to defeat a Division I team this season.

Crosby paced Delaware State with a game-high 18 points. Omari Peek-Green followed with 15 points, Pinky Wiley scored 13 and Ameer Bennett also finished in double figures with 10 points.

Sewell was the top scorer for Washington Adventist with 17 points while Hopkins netted 14.

The Hornets were outrebounded 43-37, giving up 14 offensive rebounds to the Shock. Delaware State shot 44.3 percent from the floor but was 11-of-19 (57.9 percent) on their free throw attempts.

“Sometimes you don’t know what you’ll find when you dig up the gravel,” Skeeters said of the current DSU rebuilding effort.

“You dig it up to the point where it’s like, ‘OK now we can start building.’ And that’s what we’re talking about. We’re better in practices but now it comes down to doing it for 40 minutes in a game. Winning is hard.”