Hens excited about Allen’s return after third straight win

Blue Hen sophomore Ryan Allen netted 19 points for the second time in the last three games. (Delaware sports information/Jordan Burgess)

NEWARK — Game-wise, Ryan Allen didn’t miss all that much time.

But basketball-wise, the Delaware standout sophomore missed an eternity.

Allen was sidelined from March until the fall after undergoing shoulder surgery. He then promptly broke his foot to put him out for a couple more months.

So the Blue Hens are pretty excited to see Allen looking again like the scorer who was the CAA Rookie of the Year last winter.

Allen matched his season high with 19 points, including five three-pointers, as Delaware cruised to a 77-65 victory over Elon in Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball at the Carpenter Center on Saturday evening.

It was the fifth time in the six games since he returned that Allen has finished in double figures. It was also the second time in the last three games that he tallied 19 points.

All told, the Hens (3-1 CAA, 11-6 overall) had six players score eight or more points as they stretched their winning streak to three games in a row.

“I think it’s always an interesting dynamic when you can add a key guy like Ryan Allen back to the mix,” said Delaware coach Martin Ingelsby. “You see a group that’s starting to gel together. We got into a great flow into the offensive end tonight with him (Allen) making shots.

Senior Eric Carter posted his ninth double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds on Saturday. (Delaware sports information/Jordan Burgess)

“For him to go 8-of-12 in the first half, that’s like music to my ears and beautiful to see.”

All four of Allen’s made baskets in the first half were threes as he had 12 points by halftime. After a back-and-forth opening 20 minutes that saw six lead changes and a tie, Delaware ended the first half on an 11-2 run to take a 40-32 advantage at intermission.

The Hens then pushed their lead to double digits early in the second half and never really looked back.

Delaware led by as many as 16 points with 8:07 remaining.

And when the Phoenix (1-3 CAA, 5-12) made a late run and got the Hens’ lead down to eight points, Allen swished his fifth three-pointer with 2:19 remaining to give Delaware a more-comfortable 71-60 cushion.

“There’s definitely a new chemistry on the team,” said Allen, who also had five assists. “With the offensive threats that we have this year, there’s less of a demand for me to be as aggressive as I was last year. It takes a lot of pressure off me.”

“We know that he can make shots,” said senior Eric Carter. “He’s 100 percent (physically) but he hasn’t played basketball in a little while. We encourage him and know that he’s going to hit those shots.

“On a night like tonight, where he’s hot, we’ve got to just keep finding him the ball and let him fly. He did an unbelievable job.”

Besides Allen, Carter (12 points, 12 rebounds), Kevin Anderson (11 points), Darian Bryant (11 points), Matt Veretto (9 points) and Collin Goss (8 points) all made big contributions on Saturday night.

Despite its struggles at times this season, Delaware won its 10th game on Jan. 3 — earlier than any team in program history.

With everyone healthy at the moment, the Hens are excited about the way they’re playing now. At 3-1, it’s Delaware’s best conference start since the 2013-14 season.

“I think the most important thing this year is guys are happy for each other’s success,” said Carter. “It doesn’t matter if you have two or 20 (points). At the end of the day, if we have a win, that’s all that matters.”

“We’re a work in progress,” said Ingelsby. “But we’re getting better. With Ryan Allen adding back to the mix, I think you see a group kind of believing and that has a great spirit about them.

“It’s fun to see. It’s a group that you love going to practice with every day. I think we have as good a chemistry with this group as we’ve had since I’ve been here.”

Free throws

Allen is 19-of-45 from three-point range in his six games this year. … Elon still leads the all-time series, 7-4, but Delaware has won three of the last four meetings. … The Hens have won three straight CAA games in a row for the third time in Ingelsby’s three seasons as coach. … The Hens went 20-of-28 from the foul line compared to just 5-for-5 shooting for the Phoenix. … Dylan Painter, the 6-foot-9 transfer from Villanova, will be able to start practicing with Delaware on Monday when UD’s spring semester starts. … Delaware next plays at UNC-Wilmington on Thursday night. The Hens don’t play at home again until Jan. 17 when they host James Madison.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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