Hens win overtime thriller over Elon

NEWARK — Martin Ingelsby was watching the TV show ‘Suits’ on Wednesday night when there was line that stuck with him.

In the episode, the one lawyer kept repeating the line, ‘We’re going to win this case, we’re going to win this case. …’

So when Ingelsby’s Delaware men’s basketball team found a way to take Elon to overtime on Thursday night, he tried the psychology out on his players.

“I actually had those guys verbalize, ‘We’re going to win this game, we’re going to win this game,’” Ingelsby said with a smile.

And that’s just what the Blue Hens did.

After Ryan Daly’s tying jumper at the end of regulation earned Delaware a chance in OT, the Hens took control from there, eventually putting away a 76-74 victory over Elon in a Colonial Athletic Association matchup at the Carpenter Center.

Delaware (3-10 CAA, 10-16 overall) led by as many as seven points in overtime before the Phoenix (7-6, 15-11) hit a pair of three-pointers in the final 4.7 seconds.

It was the Hens’ first-ever victory over Elon in six all-time tries and gave Delaware one more conference victory than it had all last season.

“When we needed to make plays, we made plays,” said Daly. “That’s why we came away with a victory. I think everyone on our team knows we have talent. There’s never been a question we have the ability.

“At Hofstra we were really close. Charleston we were really close. We’ve had close games that didn’t come our way. It’s prepared us for this moment.”

Of course, no shot was bigger than Daly’s jumper from the top of the key that tied the contest at 59-59 with 1.5 seconds remaining.

Delaware had trailed 55-51 and 58-55 in the closing minutes of the low-scoring game. But Elon left the door open when it made only one of two free throws with 15.7 seconds left.

The Hens called a timeout to set up a shot for Daly (18 points). The standout freshman used a head fake to get a defender off balance before sinking the tightly-contested shot from just inside the three-point line.

“It was an amazing shot,” said sophomore guard Darian Bryant. “In the huddle, I told him, ‘It’s going to come to you, so be ready to step up and knock it down.’ And he did. It was a great shot that gave us a boost going into overtime.

“We had the crowd involved. It was just a great atmosphere, a great feeling for us.”

“I had missed like six or seven mid-range jump shots,” said Daly, who was 8-for-20 from the floor. “Usually I’d like to think I’d make some of them. I stayed with it. … I was thankful it went in because I would have felt really bad if I had missed the previous five and missed that one, too.”

“That’s as hard a two-point shot as there is in college basketball,” Ingelsby said about the long-range jumper. “But he’s a winner. We knew who the ball was going to go to.”

Delaware never trailed after scoring the first four points of OT. Five Hens accounted for their 17 points in the extra five-minute period.

Probably the biggest shots were back-to-back three-pointers from Bryant (14 points) and senior Cazmon Hayes (13) that stretched Delaware’s advantage to 71-65 with 54.6 seconds left. The Hens eventually led by as much as 75-68.

“I thought we got a lot of contributions from a lot of people,” said Ingelsby. “There’s a belief about our group. I think we’re growing as a basketball team — learning how to figure it out.”

There’s definitely been more downs than ups this season for the Hens. But, with five regular-season games remaining, they still believe they can accomplish some good things.

Delaware has just four seniors on the roster, only two who scored in Thursday’s win.

“It’s a great confidence-booster for us,” said Bryant. “This is great experience for us. With five games left we can have this nice little run going into the conference tournament.”

Extra points

Delaware is now 8-4 at home this season. … Daly added 10 rebounds for his third double-double of the season. … Bryant’s 14 points were his second-highest total of the season. … The Hens hurt themselves by going just 14-of-25 from the foul line. … Delaware next plays at James Madison on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Dukes are one of the three CAA teams the Hens have beaten this season.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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