Hens fall to Buffalo 75-72 as Notre Dame looms on Saturday

The Hens’ Ryan Daly tries to drive on Buffalo’s C.J. Massinburg. Daly had a team-high 22 points while Massinburg scored 30. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

NEWARK — Buffalo is no Notre Dame.

But the Bulls aren’t bad, either.

So, while Delaware men’s basketball fans are a little more excited about seeing the Fighting Irish in the Carpenter Center on Saturday night, the Blue Hens thought the Buffalo squad they faced on Wednesday night was pretty challenging, too.

All things considered, then, Delaware’s players weren’t feeling too bad about falling to the Bulls only 75-72 after trailing by double digits a few times in the nonconference matchup.

“That’s the best team we’ve played so far,” said Hens’ sophomore guard Ryan Daly, who netted a team-high 22 points. “They were really good. I mean maybe the name ‘Buffalo’ isn’t as prestigious as Notre Dame.

“But, I’ve been around college basketball with my friends and my family. That team could compete with most teams that I’ve seen.”

The Hens (4-5) have followed pretty much the same blueprint in each contest in their current three-game losing streak.

Delaware falls behind early, battles back but then doesn’t quite get over the hump late in the game.

On Wednesday, the Hens trailed Buffalo (5-3) by a 13-2 margin at the start of the contest. But they were behind just 45-43 when freshman Ryan Allen (16 points) sank three free throws with 14:20 still remaining.

Delaware freshman guard Ryan Allen netted 16 points in the Hens’ 75-72 loss to Buffalo on Wednesday night. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

A few other times Delaware got the Bulls’ advantage down to four points but then turned it over or missed a shot on its next possession.

“We’ve got a fearless group,” said Blue Hen coach Martin Ingelsby. “They’ve battled back. … I think at the end of the game we were a little too excited and had a couple careless turnovers that really hurt us.

“I kind of kicked myself. Maybe we should have slowed down a little bit and tried to run something offensively to get our key guys the ball where they could be successful. But it’s a learning experience for us.”

“It’s not a great spot to always be coming back,” said Daly. “We’ve got to start stronger so we don’t have put ourselves in a hole. But we’ve got great resiliency — especially for a young group. It’s good that we’re learning how to come back but we’ve got to start swinging punches earlier.”

At times, Delaware had its three freshman guards on the court at the same time — Allen, Kevin Anderson (8 points, 5 assists) and Chyree Walker (12 points).

At times on Wednesday, that group held its own. But, at other times, they were no match for Buffalo’s junior tandem of C.J. Massinburg and Davonta Jordan.

Massinburg poured in 30 points — going 5-of-6 from three-point range — with Jordan adding a career-high 20.

The two combined to sink 19 of the Bulls’ 30 total field goals. Many times, they were able to simply drive to the basket.

“From a guard’s perspective, we’ve let a lot of guards get off on us,” said Allen. “We’ve had multiple guards score 30 points on us. At that point, we’ve got to take it personally. We can’t keep letting that happen if we want to win games. As guards, we’ve got to buckle down.”

After falling behind by a game-high 14 points (69-55) with 5:55 remaining, the Hens did have one comeback left in them.

A putback by senior Eric Carter (6 points, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks) capped a 10-0 run that sliced Buffalo’s lead to just 69-65 with 3:55 still left on the clock. But, again, Delaware couldn’t get any closer until Walker’s free throw with 0.5 seconds left accounted for the final three-point margin.

Of course, with ninth-ranked Notre Dame and former Blue Hen coach Mike Brey coming to town on Saturday night, Delaware knows it has to quickly turn its attention to the Fighting Irish. The contest has already been declared a sellout.

“What an exciting time for our program to have Notre Dame here and to honor Mike,” said Ingelsby, a former Notre Dame player who was Brey’s assistant for 13 seasons. “It’s going to be a fun night.

“They’re really, really good. They’ve got some talented offensive guys. I want our guys to play loose, go for it and have fun. This place will be rocking and rolling. I’m looking forward to it.”

Free throws

Daly had a walking boot on his right leg after the game. He said he’s been dealing with a sprained ankle for a week or so. … After the Notre Dame game, Delaware doesn’t play again until Dec. 17 when it comes to Dover for an 8 p.m. matchup with Delaware State. … Daly has scored in double figures in seven straight games. … This was the fourth time Delaware played Buffalo but only the second time since 1950.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.