Hens top rival Dragons 72-66 for 2nd straight CAA victory

Blue Hen senior Eric Carter, who finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, puts up a shot in Thursday night’s win. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

NEWARK — Momentum has been a precious commodity for Delaware lately.

Only once in the past two seasons have the Blue Hens strung together back-to-back conference victories.

So the Blue Hens thought it was no small feat when they held off rival Drexel, 72-66, in Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball at the Carpenter on Thursday night.

The win gives Delaware two straight CAA victories and pushes the Hens’ record to 3-2 in conference, 10-8 overall.

With three straight road games sitting in front of them now, getting another home victory was actually somewhat critical for Delaware.

“In conference, it’s so important to protect home,” said senior forward Eric Carter, who collected 17 points and 13 rebounds. “The road games are hard. You don’t get as many calls.

“I think we’ve done a good job so far — the past two games especially — of really dominating here and protecting home.”

Indeed, the Hens looked like they might have a pretty easy night when they opened up a 66-50 lead over the Dragons (1-4 CAA, 7-11) with 7:03 remaining. Delaware shot 55.6 percent (15-of-27) in the second half.

But in the 157th meeting between the two old rivals, Drexel wasn’t going to let Delaware get away without having to work for it.

The Dragons whittled the Hens’ advantage down to just 69-66 with 1:15 still on the clock and then got the ball back on a steal.

However, a three from Tramaine Isabell (14 points, 15 rebounds) with 36 seconds left was short.

Finally, Anthony Mosley sank one free throw with 34.3 seconds left and Ryan Daly (13 points) hit two foul shots with 15.7 seconds remaining to ice the win. The Dragons missed their final four shots.

Freshman guard Ryan Allen drives to the basket against Drexel. Allen netted 15 points in the contest. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

The Hens were just 8-of-15 from the free-throw line in the contest.

“Hey, for us, any win’s a great win,” said Delaware coach Martin Ingelsby. “We were a little careless with the basketball down the stretch. But they’ve got a talented offensive team and they made some tough shots.

“I thought we did a good-enough job defensively when we needed to. We were switching some stuff to keep bodies in front of us. Overall, we hold them to 20 percent from three-point line and 41 percent for the game. I think we really won it with our defense.”

Both squads had four players score in double digits. For the Hens, besides Carter and Daily, freshman guard Ryan Allen netted 15 while Darian Bryant added 11.

After losing guard Kevin Anderson to a season-ending knee injury, Delaware needs Allen to be a consistent scorer for them. He’s done that, finishing in double figures in 11 of the last 13 games.

“We’ve got great players all over the place,” said Allen, a DeMatha Catholic grad. “We’ve got players who are going to make plays. I just feel like I’ve been open most of the time. They always encourage me to shoot the ball.”

Allen is 7-for-14 from three-point range in the last two games.

“He’s an important guy for us,” said Ingelsby. “He’s got the ultimate green light. We need him to attack — take some pressure off of Ryan Daly, take some pressure off of Eric Carter.

“He’s got a beautiful stroke. He’s playing like one of the best young guards in our league. I need to do a better job of trying to get him in situations where he can be successful.”

Things will get tougher now for the Hens as they head on the road. They don’t play at home again until hosting Charleston on Jan. 25.

Delaware opens the stretch of road games with a 4 p.m. contest at James Madison on Saturday.

“To have a three-game homestand and get out of here 2-1 gives us great momentum heading into Saturday,” said Ingelsby. “I really talked to the group after the game about it’s our turn to sweep one of these Thursday-Saturdays now. We’ve split them.

“But you’ve got to take care of the home court in this league. Then you go on the road and be poised and patient and try to grind one out.”

Extra points

The double-double was Carter’s fifth of the season. … Daly’s double-figure scoring streak is up to 16 straight games. … The Hens have won their last three home games against Drexel. … Delaware leads the all-time series with the Dragons, 81-76. … Braynt and Mosley had five assists apiece. … The Hens are last in the CAA in free-throw shooting at 66.4 percent.

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