DOVER — Cape Henlopen High product Aaliyah Davis hit a half-court 3-point buzzer-beater to lift the Delaware State University women’s basketball team over visiting MEAC foe Bethune-Cookman 72-71 Saturday afternoon.
“I told myself when I got the ball that I had to get the shot off and just let it go,” said Davis, who was playing in only her fifth college game after dealing with a knee injury. “This game meant a lot and it was definitely a confidence booster for myself.”
Delaware State’s (5-16, 2-6 MEAC) win snapped a five-game skid in conference play and ended Bethune-Cookman’s (9-13, 6-4 MEAC) five-game winning streak. Coming into Saturday’s contest, the Wildcats also sat second in the MEAC standings behind Hampton.
“We just really tried to come out and stick to our game plan today, which was to feed the post,” said DSU coach Tamika Louis. “I think what we’re realizing right now is that if we stick to it, we can be successful for the rest of the season.”
With DSU leading by as many as 11 in the opening half, behind forward Tierra Hawkins’ 13 points (5-of-6), guard Mikah Aldridge hit a pair of free throws to put the Hornets up 60-51 at the 4:33 mark. The Wildcats cut the deficit to four a little over a minute later with an Alea Godfrey deuce, followed by DSU suffering a huge blow with Aldridge fouling out with 2:33 left.
“It’s really tough when she’s not on the floor because the offense does not run as fluently,” said Louis said of Aldridge, who finished with 15 points (4-of-11) and a game-high six assists.
Bethune-Cookman’s Emily Williams made her fourth trey to knot the game at 69 with 19 seconds left. Hawkins turned the ball over on DSU’s ensuing possession. Unfortunately for the Hornets, guard Kendra Cooper came away with the loose ball and was fouled by Davis on the other end while shooting. With 1.5 seconds left, Cooper hit both free throws to give the Wildcats their first lead of the afternoon.
Not taking a timeout, DSU’s Nikkei Blackburn inbounded the ball to Davis with 1.5 seconds left, who connected for her first-career 3-pointer.
“The funny thing is, Aaliyah had a chance to win the game for us at the buzzer against South Carolina State last Saturday,” added Louis. “I told her that she would get another opportunity win a game somewhere down the line.”
Hawkins tallied her second consecutive double-double with a game-high 34 points (14-of-16) and 10 rebounds. Hawkins matched a career-high in points (34) and field goals made (14), in addition to moving into third all-time on DSU’s scoring list with 1,656.
“Whenever I got the ball, I just let the game come to me and just got to the basket,” said Hawkins.
Crawford scored a team-high 15 points (7-of-11) off the bench to lead the way for five Wildcats scoring in double figures. Defensively, B-CU’s leader in steals (56) Terrenisha Hollis collected a game-high nine.
Delaware State will aim for a season-long three-game winning streak Monday at 5:30 p.m. against Florida A&M.
MEN, Bethune-Cookman 75, DSU 70: Bethune-Cookman trailed by 18 in the first half before rallying to defeat Delaware State 75-70 in a MEAC men’s basketball contest in Memorial Hall. The Wildcats won for the second time in three games to improve to 8-16 overall and 4-5 in the MEAC. The Hornets dropped their fourth straight game to fall to 10-13 and 4-4.
DSU hit 10 of its first 18 shots from the floor, including five three-pointers, to control the game for much of the first half. The Hornets opened up the biggest lead of the game, 34-16, on a follow-up basket by Mrdjan Gasevic with 2:53 to go before halftime.
The Wildcats responded by scoring the last 12 points of the half to get back into the contest. Denzel Dulin capped off the rally with a fast break lay-up with five seconds left in the half to cut the Hornets’ lead to 34-28 at the break.
Delaware State missed each of its four shots and committed a turnover, while BCU connected on five of its six shot attempts and was two-for-two at the free throw line to close out the half.
The Wildcats scored nine of the first 11 points of the second half, and led for the first time in the game, 37-36, on a lay-up by Brandon Stewart off a Hornet turnover with 18:18 left to play.
Tyshawn Bell scored the next four points of the game to regain the lead for the Hornets. He hit two free throws with 16:40 left to give DSU a 40-37 advantage.
Bethune-Cookman outscored the Hornets 18-7 over the next six minutes to again pull ahead. Ricky Johnson capped off the rally with a short jumper to give the Wildcats a 55-47 lead with 10:31 remaining in the second half. Delaware State missed five of its six field goal attempts, while BCU knocked down three three-pointers during the stretch.
It was now the Hornets’ turn to battle back again. Amere May’s hit three-pointers on consecutive DSU possessions to tie the game at 60 with 5:35 left to play.
The Hornets pulled ahead 62-60 when Bell and Kendall Gray each hit one-of- two free throws on the next two DSU possessions.
Bethune-Cookman responded with a 6-0 run, and opened up a 66-62 lead with 1:58 remaining in the game.
The Hornets missed their eight consecutive shots after holding their last lead. DSU didn’t get its next basket until DeAndre Haywood scored on a lay-up with the Wildcats ahead by eight with 13 seconds left.
Delaware State hit just 10 of its 31 second half shots (32.3%), and was outscored 47-36 in the final 20 minutes. Bethune-Cookman was 14-for-28 from the floor in the second half.
Stewart led three Wildcats in double figures with 26 points. He was seven-for-13 from the field (three three-pointers) and nine-of-11 at the free throw line. Johnson added 19 points and Dulin 11 for BCU.
May was high scorer for Delaware State with 18 points, while Bell tallied 14.
Gray recorded his 14th double-double of the season for the Hornets, tallying 13 points and 14 rebounds. The nation’s leading rebounder, Gray has reached double figures in boards in each of the last 11 games.
Delaware State returns to action on Monday at home against Florida A&M. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall.