Weary Blue Hens fall to James Madison 73-63

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Cazmon Hayes netted a team-high 17 points for Delaware in its loss to JMU on Saturday. (Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell)

NEWARK — They try their best not to talk about it.

It’s almost like if Delaware’s men’s basketball players don’t acknowledge fatigue, it won’t catch up to them.

Of course, not using fatigue as an excuse and actually playing with it are two different things.

The undermanned Blue Hens certainly looked like a tired bunch when they fell behind by 15 at halftime before being downed by James Madison, 73-63, in a Colonial Athletic Association matchup at the Carpenter Center on Saturday afternoon.

It was the third loss in just five days for Delaware (0-2 CAA, 5-8 overall), who have lost five games in a row. The Hens had only seven scholarship players available again.

“The games, they took a toll on our bodies,” said junior Cazmon Hayes, who netted a team-high 17 points. “But we can’t use it as an excuse because it’s going to be like this the rest of the year. We’re got to find a way to get over this hump. But I know that we will.”

Whether it was because they were tired or not, the Hens couldn’t hit a shot in the first half.

Delaware was only 5-for-29 from the floor (17.2 percent), including 0-for-11 from three-point range, as the Dukes went up 35-20 at halftime.

Sophomore guard Kory Holden, who’s averaging a team-high 17.4 points, didn’t sink his first basket until there was just 5:36 remaining in the game.
He finished with a season-low seven points.

“You’re not going to beat anybody 2-0,” said Delaware coach Monte’ Ross. “You’ve got to be able to score that ball. To shoot 5-for-29 in your own building. … you just build yourself such a big hole that it’s hard to climb out of that.

“We held them to 35 points in the first half, which is OK. … But we have to be able to get to 70. But when you score 20, it’s hard to get 50 in the second half. We don’t have to play perfect but you have to make more than 17 percent of your shots.”

Ross reluctantly agreed that the stretch of road games — this was Delaware’s first home contest in a month — for his short-handed squad probably had a lot to do with the Hens’ struggles.

“I don’t want to succumb to that,” he said. “But we’ve got guys that are playing 38 minutes and playing every other day. They’re beat up a little bit.”

Delaware actually led 4-0 at the start of the contest. But the Dukes (1-1 CAA, 11-4), who were picked to finish second in the Colonial this season, answered with a 14-0 run to take the lead for good.

The Hens never got that advantage under double digits in the final 22:29 of the game.

One of the few bright spots for Delaware was the play of sophomore guard Anthony Mosley. He collected 16 points and 11 rebounds for his first collegiate double-double.

The former Dover resident has netted 49 points in just the last three games. The 6-foot-1 guard had 10 of the Hens’ 20 first-half points after sinking three of their first five field goals on Saturday.

“I think he’s playing with a lot of confidence,” said Ross. “Shoot, we said in the locker room (at halftime), ‘Thank goodness for Anthony Mosley. We would have had about six points.’ I think he’s doing a great job of driving the ball. I think he’s doing a great job of picking his spots and being really, really aggressive.

“When he’s on a fastbreak situation, he’s a load to stay in front of because he’s so low to the ground, he’s so strong and he’s so athletic in terms of finishing.”

“I was really just picking my spots,” said Mosley, whose 11 rebounds were a career high.

Delaware was also happy to get back junior Devonne Pinkard, who missed the last nine games with a foot injury. On the other hand, the Hens were without sophomore forward Skye Johnson, who was sidelined with concussion symptoms after taking an elbow to the head at Hoftsra on Thursday.

It’s up in the air whether Johnson will be back for the Hens’ next game, at defending league champion Northeastern on Thursday night.

Of course, Delaware has learned to roll with injuries this season. Indeed, the last few weeks don’t seem to have hurt Ross’ optimism.

“We’ll be fine,” he said. “We’ve had some good experiences in navigating this league. We’ll be all right. We’ve got to keep grinding it and working at it. Once we get these guys together, we’ll be OK.”

Extra points

Hayes has scored in double figures in seven games this season. … JMU had three players score in double digits. Jackson Kent netted a season-high 19 points, sinking four of the Dukes’ 13 three-pointers (13-of-32). … Delaware was only 4-of-24 on threes, with all four coming in the last 14 minutes. … Pinkard was only 1-for-9 from the floor, including 1-for-7 from three-point range. … The Hens’ next play at home on Jan. 9 when they lost UNC-Wilmington at 7 p.m. That starts a stretch of three straight home games for them.

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