NEWARK — Kyle Anderson thought about the question for a moment.
But clearly the Delaware senior guard didn’t have an answer.
Why is this Delaware men’s basketball team so inconsistent?
How can the Blue Hens go from an impressive victory over first-place Northeastern on Saturday to a lackluster 67-54 loss to James Madison on Tuesday night?
“That’s a really good question,” said Anderson, Delaware’s lone senior. “I’m not making excuses that we’re young — I’m tired of the whole ‘young’ thing. It’s been a whole season for us.
“There’s no excuses. We’ve got to change it whatever it is.”
Clearly, the Hens (5-8 CAA, 6-18 overall) are never going to make any headway in the Colonial Athletic Association standings if they can’t put together any winning streaks.
Coming off the Northesatern victory — not to mention a big student turnout with the start of UD’s spring semester this week — Delaware certainly had a chance to get some momentum going. But the Hens’ shooting touch deserted them for a long stretch in the middle of Tuesday’s contest and JMU (8-5, 15-11) took advantage.
“The only consistent thing about us right now is that we’re inconsistent,” said Delaware coach Monte’ Ross. “And that’s a product of youth. Shoot, you talk about from game to game not knowing what you’re going to get, we don’t know what we’re going to get from four minutes to four minutes to four minutes.
“It’s not like they’re not trying. They’re trying their hearts out. But sometimes things don’t come together the way you would like them to come together.”
The Hens, though, looked like they were ready to play another good game when they opened up a 27-21 lead with five minutes left in the first half. At that point there had already been seven lead changes and four ties in the game.
But Delaware went ice cold after that and the game suddenly got away from the Hens.
JMU tallied the final 11 points of the first half to go up 32-27 at intermission. Nine of those points came on three-pointers from three different players.
The Dukes then turned it into a 15-0 run when they scored the first four points of the second half.
From there it was an uphill climb for the Hens.
In one 14-minute span, Delaware scored just nine points. JMU eventually led by as many as 20 with 5:38 remaining.
“We had an ugly wart show up that had not been present for a very long time,” said Ross. “That was our scoring. We’ve been shooting at a high percentage for the last five, six, seven games. I don’t know if we were just too hyped up or what it but just weren’t able to make shots today.”
“They played great team defense,” said freshman Chivarsky Corbett. “I think we did start forcing shots and that’s never good.
“We had a good win on Saturday,” he added. “We’ve got to play every game like that — like we played Northeastern, like it’s the best team in the league. We’ve got to play every game like it’s our last.”
Corbett finished with a game-high 17 points. But 10 of his points came in the opening 10 minutes with the other seven coming in the last four minutes, after the game was out of reach.
Anderson added 13 points as Delaware shot only 37.8 percent (17-for-45) for the game. The Hens also had 15 turnovers with only 12 assists.
The defending CAA champion Hens know they’re running out of chances to get their season on track. The schedule is down to five regular-season games.
With the large student cheering section and a regional TV audience, Delaware’s players wanted to show they’re better than this. Ross said he went over and apologized to the remaining student fans afterward.
“I’m really disappointed because of the crowd,” Ross said about the loss. “I thought they were just absolutely tremendous. The student section was packed, they were loud, they were energetic, they were into it from the start. ... I’m really sorry that we couldn’t get it done for them.
“It was a great atmosphere. That’s what the guys want to play in front of.”
JMU’s Yohanny Dalembert, a relative of the NBA’s Samuel Dalembert, finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. ... The Hens’ Maurice Jeffers followed up his career-high 20-point game against Northeastern with just two points on 1-of-3 shooting on Tuesday. ... Anderson passed the 1,200-point mark for his career. He’s scored in double figures in seven straight games ... The Dukes are 5-2 in CAA road games. ... Delaware returns to action with a 2:30 p.m. game at William & Mary on Saturday.
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.