Mitchell’s putback, free throw lift DSU by South Carolina State 70-68

Jon Mitchell

DOVER — Johnathan Mitchell made a mistake over the weekend.

And the Delaware State University senior waited two days for his chance to atone for it.

Mitchell answered with the best performance of his career.

Mitchell scored a career-high 24 points and had the game-winning basket for the Hornets in a 70-68 men’s basketball victory over South Carolina State on Monday night. The win snapped a 10-game losing streak for Delaware State and was the first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference win for first-year coach Eric Skeeters.

Mitchell crashed the offensive glass with 13 seconds left and grabbed a loose rebound before immediately laying it up. The putback went in for a 69-68 Hornets lead as Mitchell was fouled on the play, then hit the resulting free throw.

“I just went for the offensive rebound and it bounced my way,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell had been in a similar situation on Saturday with a last-second shot.

With the Hornets trailing by three points against Savannah State, Mitchell had the ball on the wing with less than five seconds to go. But instead of shooting a three, Mitchell shot a two-pointer with two seconds left.

But he bounced back with a 16-point second half performance on Monday to help the Hornets overcome a six-point halftime deficit.
“I’m so proud of him,” Skeeters said. “A lot of guys would fold because of that. He just showed his toughness and his resiliency.”

“I had to make it up to the team,” Mitchell said.

Delaware State improved to 4-18 overall and 1-8 in the MEAC. It was the Hornets’ first victory since Dec. 19 and only the second against a Division I opponent this season.

They did it all playing shorthanded on Monday.

The Hornets dressed just eight players against South Carolina State. They were down two starters as Saleik Edwards missed his second game in a row due to a concussion and Kevin Larkin was sitting out on Monday due to disciplinary reasons.

Those two were added to the long list of inactive Hornets which includes Faheem Jenneto, Demola Onifade, Kobe Gantz and Montrell Horsey who have all missed a majority of the season with injuries.

With so many players out, the Hornets needed points from an unlikely source.

Myles Carter filled that void.

Carter scored a career-high 16 points. He had only averaged 6.5 minutes per game this year and had just 29 total points this season.

“My coaches gave me a chance,” Carter said. “I just had to step up and do what I had to do to help us get a win.”

Carter gave DelState a 63-61 lead with 3:12 left in the game before South Carolina State edged back in front on a three by Ian Kinard.

He could not finish the game though. He suffered a leg injury when he was fouled on a layup with 1:00 remaining and had to sit out the final minute.

Ameer Bennett had to take the free throws for him and went 1-of-2 from the line to put DSU on top 67-66. Janai Raynor-Powell made a pair of free throws for South Carolina State with 39 seconds left to set the stage for Mitchell’s game-winner on the next possession.

Delaware State shot 61.5 percent from the floor in the second half. Bennett finished with 12 points and Pinky Wiley added 12 of his own to help end the losing streak.

“It’s a credit to every one of those guys,” Skeeters said. “From the time I stepped foot on this campus they’ve given me everything they got. I love them all. That’s a true testament to being there for each other. It’s unbelievable.

“It was an effort from everybody, even the guys who were out and couldn’t play. It’s a beautiful thing when you understand all the sacrifices you’ve made and what the reward is and how hard it is but how much fun you’re going to have when you earn it.”

WOMEN, South Carolina State 63, Delaware State 60: NaJai Pollard netted 36 points and grabbed 11 rebounds but the Hornets fell in the MEAC contest.

Delaware State led entering the fourth quarter but South Carolina State out-scored the Hornets 19-7 in the fourth.

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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