Turnovers plague Hens in 86-67 loss to UNC- Wilmington

 

NEWARK — A year ago, this team looked like it was going places.

With a roster filled with underclassmen, the Delaware men’s basketball squad played its best in the final month of the season.

But, at the moment, the only place the Blue Hens look like they’re going is down a dead-end street.

What appeared to be a good chance to snap its losing streak only turned into another ugly night as Delaware was dumped by UNC-Wilmington, 85-67, at the Carpenter Center on Saturday night.

That makes seven losses in a row for the Hens (0-4 Colonial Athletic Association, 5-10 overall). Against a Seahawk squad (2-2 CAA, 10-5) that had lost seven straight in Newark, Delaware led only once, when it scored the first basket of the night.

The Hens trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half and by 25 in the second.

There wasn’t much coach Monte’ Ross could say.

“I just told the team, we’re in a funk right now,” he said. “We’re in a very, very serious funk. We’ve got to find a way to fight our way out of this. And we will.”

Sophomore guard Kory Holden was a little more blunt about Delaware’s problems right now.

“We’re just not shooting it well,” he said. “We’re not really defending, either. There’s a lot of things we need to work on.

“We’re not playing with much confidence right now to be honest with you,” Holden added. “The shooters that usually make their shots are not stepping up and shooting it with confidence.”

All that being said, Delaware did play an encouraging stretch on Saturday.

Trailing 30-11 with 7:39 left in the first half, the Hens whittled the Seahawks’ lead down to 41-30 at halftime. They then began the second half on an 8-2 run, getting UNCW’s advantage down to just 43-38 with almost 17 minutes still remaining.

But, in the next moment, all that momentum vanished into thin air.

The Seahawks scored 18 of the next 19 points and the comeback was over.

“I actually asked that to the assistants during the game — like, ‘What happened?’” said Ross. “You looked up and we were down 20. They told me we went from shooting 3-for-7 from the field to like 4-for-19. We couldn’t buy a bucket and they kept scoring. They were getting layups.”

The Hens were their own worst enemy at times, committing a season-high 20 turnovers. That was one reason the Seahawks shot a season-best 53 percent (35-for-66).

UNCW outscored Delaware, 52-24, in the paint.

“We had a lot of turnovers — and it wasn’t because of them, it was because of us,” said senior Marvin King-Davis. “Throwing the ball out of bounds or making the wrong pass …

“I think teams are looking at our bench and seeing we’re pretty low. They’re just throwing fresh bodies at us. That was the pace we really struggled — defending transition.”

The one bright spot for the Hens was the season-high 29-point effort from King-Davis. The fifth-year senior sank 8-of-11 shots from the floor and 13-of-15 free throws.

The rest of Delaware’s players were a combined 10-for-35 from the floor.

This is clearly a bad stretch for the Hens right now. And Ross knows there’s no magic formula that will get them winning again.

“We’ve got to stick together, we’ve got to keep working,” he said. “We’ve got to keep fighting. We can’t point fingers. We’ve got to own this thing.

“We can’t make excuses. We’ve got to stick together as a group — and we will.”

Free throws

Anthony Mosley (15 points) and Holden (13) also scored in double figures for Delaware. … Holden had to leave the game for a while because of a migraine. … Freshman guard Mark Matthews netted a career-high 18 points for UNCW. He was 4-for-5 on three-pointers. He was 3-for-15 from beyond the arc coming into the game. … Delaware is 0-4 in the CAA for the first time since 2007. … The Hens, who had only seven healthy scholarship players, lost reserve forward Barnett Harris to a second-half knee injury. The 6-foot-9 junior was on crutches after the contest. … Delaware’s shooting 38.9 shooting percentage for the season is one of the lowest in Division I. … Delaware continues its homestand on Thursday by hosting Towson at 7 p.m.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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