Hens snap 15-game skid, knock off CAA foe Drexel 69-60

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Marvin King-Davis’ dunk with 1:38 remaining gave the Blue Hens a 64-59 lead. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

NEWARK — Finally, finally, they could joke about it.

Delaware’s men’s basketball players had spent the last two months enduring what grew into a school-record 15-game losing streak.

So when the Blue Hens ended that streak, at last, with a 69-60 win over rival Drexel on Thursday night at the Carpenter Center, they certainly were going to crack a few smiles.

“We were the worst team in history,” senior Marvin King-Davis said with a laugh. “We didn’t want to do that. We didn’t want to make history that way. We’d have been on Sports Center.”

The funny thing was, despite the losing streak, Delaware’s players said they felt confident when it came down to crunch time on Thursday. It was their first victory since a 70-69 win over Marist on Dec. 12.

After the Dragons closed within 61-59 with four minutes still remaining, Delaware (1-12 Colonial Athletic Association, 6-18 overall) finished the contest on an 8-1 run. That included making 6-of-8 free throws.

“It kind of felt like the second half of the season in conference play last year where we just kept playing,” said junior Cazmon Hayes, who netted 13 points. “Those last four minutes, it felt the same. You could see, a lot of us had smiles on our faces because we kind of knew that we were made to do that. We were going to pull it out.”

“I hate to say it like this but we did things tonight that we’ve doing around here for a long time,” said coach Monte’ Ross. “We just haven’t been doing them this year. So it was good to see that.

“It was familiar territory. But it was foreign familiar territory — if that makes any sense. We just haven’t seen it for so long. I was happy that we made winning plays at the end of the game to keep them at bay.”

To be clear, this wasn’t a great Drexel team that the Hens beat on Thursday. The Dragons (1-12 CAA, 3-21 overall) are now mired in a nine-game losing streak of their own.

Indeed, the victory arguably moves the Hens into ninth-place in the 10-team CAA given that they now have the head-to-head edge over Drexel.

If there was an exclamation point on the victory, it came with 1:38 remaining. With the shot-clock running down, guard Kory Holden (12 points) was surrounded out by the three-point line.

But, just when it looked like he was going to have to force up a shot, the sophomore instead got the ball inside to King-Davis, who was all alone for a two-handed dunk. The basket gave Delaware a 64-59 lead as King-Davis finished with a game-high 23 points.

“I’m yelling to Kory, ‘Shoot it, shoot it,’” said Ross. “And Kory shot fakes and finds Marvin underneath the rim. I just thought, that’s a winning play in terms of just having poise.”

But, really, some of the best poise the Hens showed came in the first half. With guard Sammy Mojica (16 points) burying his first three three-pointers, the Dragons stormed out to a 21-11 lead.

They were still ahead 24-13 with 4:46 left before halftime. That’s when Delaware started getting its act together, however.

The Hens finished the half on an 11-0 run to tie the contest, 24-24, at intermission. They eventually turned it into a 19-2 run, taking a 32-26 lead early in the second half.

Delaware shot a red-hot 61.1 percent (11-for-18) in the second half, including sinking three of four three-pointers.

While Drexel did tie the game three times in the final 10 minutes, Delaware never trailed again.

It’s been a long time since the Hens can say that,

“I thought the key to the game was that we didn’t panic in the first half when we got down,” said Ross. “I was very proud of our guys because it’s very easy when you’re going through what we’re going through, to get down. They just kept going play by play by play.”

“No matter what, we’re always going to fight hard,” said King-Davis.

“That’s the thing about this team,” said Hayes. “We were on a losing streak and we were aware of that. But every game we came out with the mindset that we were going to do well. We were going to play to the best of our abilities. Tonight we just pulled it through.”

Extra points

The Hens had been tied with St. John’s for the longest active losing streak in Division I men’s basketball. The Red Storm put their 15-game looking streak up against No. 1 Villanova on Saturday night. …  Delaware also snapped a five-game home losing streak. … A total of nine players scored in double figures, including five for Delaware. For the Hens, Anthony Mosley (11 points) and Devonne Pinkard (10) also reached double digits. … King-Davis had a team-high nine rebounds to reach 500 for his career. … Delaware plays at home again on Saturday when it hosts Hofstra at 5 p.m. on the NBC Sports Network.

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