NEWARK — Kyle Anderson doesn’t spend too much time above the rim.
After all, the 6-foot-3 Delaware guard is known as a three-point specialist.
So when Anderson drove the baseline for a two-handed dunk in the second half of the Blue Hens’ 71-68 victory over the College of Charleston in CAA men’s basketball on Saturday, it was something of a special occasion.
“I get about one per year on average,” joked Anderson, a senior. “I mean, I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I was up there.
“I was going to lay it up. But once you’re eye-level with the rim, you feel like. ... ‘I’ve got to just dunk it.’”
Just like an Anderson dunk, wins have been pretty rare for Delaware this season. The Hens are now just 5-16 overall.
On the other hand, Saturday’s win over the last-place Cougars (1-9 CAA, 6-17) pushed the Hens’ record to 4-6 in the Colonial Athletic Association. And as muddled as the league standings are right now, anything still seems possible to Delaware.
“This conference is so wide open right now,” said Anderson, who finished with a team-high 14 points. “It’s really going to come down to March. It’s the first time since I’ve been here that, in March, it’s whoever can win it.”
Certainly, Delaware looked like a pretty good team in the second half on Saturday. After trailing by four at halftime, the Hens went on a 17-5 tear to open up a comfortable 65-50 cushion.
Anderson’s dunk followed by his high, arcing three-pointer gave Delaware its 15-point advantage with 2:28 remaining. To be honest, coach Monte’ Ross said it reminded him of the way last year’s CAA championship team used to win games.
“It felt like games that we’ve had here for the last three or four years,” said Ross. “We do just enough to stay close in the first half. And then, at some point, we have an offensive explosion in the second half. I was happy to see that’s what happened for us today, too.”
Five Hens scored in double figures: Anderson (14), Marvin King-Davis (11), Chivarsky Corbett (11), Cazmon Hayes (11) and Devonne Pinkard (10). That doesn’t include freshman Kory Holden, who had eight points and eight assists while playing 38 minutes.
But, as much as anything, Delaware’s players said it was their defense that turned the tide in the second half. Until things got sloppy in the closing minutes, Charleston was just 3-of-15 from the floor in the first 17 minutes of the second half.
“We came out harder on the defensive end,” Hayes said about the second half. “We’ve been making shots so I knew that we could put points up.
“The games that they (Charleston) have lost, they’ve only lost by two or four points. They haven’t gotten blown out this year. So there was no, ‘Oh, we beat them one time so we’ll just coast through the game.’ As you saw, we only won by three.”
The final margin ended up so small because Delaware turned the ball over three times and missed a couple free throws in the final two minutes. In the meantime, the Cougars made six of their last eight shots from the floor.
Still, Charleston only got within three when it hit a three-pointer with just 1.3 seconds left. Even then, there was a lengthy delay while the referees looked at replays to decide how much time should be on the clock.
Three other times, the officials studied replays to decide whether or not to call a flagrant foul. The contest took a long two hours and 15 minutes from start to finish.
“It was the longest minute of my life,” Hayes joked about the finish.
“I would have liked to have seen us close it out a little cleaner,” said Ross. “But credit it goes to those guys (the Cougars). They just kept coming at us.”
While Saturday’s game was Delaware’s 21st contest of the season, the Hens would rather look at it as the start of the second half of their CAA schedule. Winning the opener of that closing stretch left them feeling optimistic.
“We need every single win to get the highest seed (in the league tournament),’” said Hayes. “Everybody’s losing to everybody. Getting these next eight wins would have us in a good place come tournament time.”
Delaware, which has won three of its last four home games, hosts Hofstra on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ... Charleston’s Canyon Barry, the youngest son of former NBA star Rick Barry, netted a game-high 17 points. He even shot free throws underhanded like his high-scoring father. ... The Hens have won four in a row over Charleston. . ... Anderson has scored in double figures in four straight games and in 13 of the last 14 contests.
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.