Delaware Blue Hens’ depth helps put away LIU in second half

Delaware's Andrew Carr dunks home two of his 18 points in the Blue Hens' win over Long Island on Tuesday night.
Delaware's Andrew Carr dunks home two of his 18 points in the Blue Hens' win over Long Island on Tuesday night.
Special to the Delaware State News/Sarah Boekholder

NEWARK — Delaware’s men’s basketball squad is in the middle of playing an NBA schedule right now.

The Blue Hens aren’t facing professional teams, of course, but they are in a stretch of playing a grueling seven games in 14 days.

So while Delaware looked pretty good in running out to a 16-point lead against Long Island, maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that the Sharks stormed back to tie the game in the second half.

But thanks to its deep roster, the Hens still had enough left in the tank to take control down the stretch and post a 75-67 victory over LIU at the Carpenter Center on Tuesday night.

The hard-earned win snapped a two-game losing streak for Delaware (5-3) as all five starters finished in double figures.

“At one point, we’d played six away games and one home game,” said junior guard Jameer Nelson Jr. “So it was just always staying in hotels. I think some guys were just like, ‘I want to go home.’ Guys were a little homesick.

“Keeping our energy up, it’s not an issue, but it’s something we need to work on. We were up and then our energy was down. And then their energy was up. It gave them confidence that we weren’t energized like we were before.”

The Hens led just 61-60 with seven minutes remaining when they went on a 10-2 run to more or less put away the Sharks (1-5). Sophomore Andrew Carr scored three straight baskets to cap that stretch, including a pair of dunks.

The 6-foot-9 forward finished with a team-high 18 points, two shy of his career best.

“We know we’re at our best when we share the ball,” said Carr. “It just showed tonight that everyone is capable of doing that. Within our offense, if we really move and cut the way that we know how, everyone is dangerous.”

Besides Carr, Kevin Anderson (13), Nelson (12), Ryan Allen (11) and Dylan Painter (11) also scored in double digits.

With Painter playing only 27 minutes after getting in early foul trouble, Carr also had to contend with LIU big man Isaac Kante. Delaware is very familiar with the 6-for-8 Kante considering he played at CAA rival Hofstra before transferring for his final year of eligibility.

Kante tallied 17 points and nine rebounds but wasn’t a big factor in the last several minutes.

“I’ve been battling with Dylan all summer and all fall,” said the 220-pound Carr. “They’re very similar big guys. It was a good test for me and I feel very confident in my ability to step to the ‘five’ and be able to show that physicality. Dylan definitely prepared me very well.”

The Hens netted only 30 second-half points after putting up 45 in the first half. But that was enough to put away an LIU team that just beat Delaware State, 99-65, on Saturday.

“We struggled,” said UD coach Martin Ingelsby. “It was a hard second half. I’m proud of how we responded once they tied it. We had to do some tough stuff.

“Our guys stepped up and made some plays when they needed to on the offensive end.”

It was Nelson that gave the Hens a big spark after the Sharks tied the game at 57-57.

The 6-foot-1 guard drove the lane for an impressive left-handed dunk that gave Delaware the lead for good. Nelson then took a charge and hit a jumper to put the Hens ahead 61-57.

“I feel like that’s what I’m here for — defense and however I can help offensively,” said the George Washington transfer.

Ironically, Delaware now turns around and plays at Delaware State on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Hens lead the all-time series, 15-5.

“I think we know what’s on the line,” said Ingelsby. “We’re excited to head down there and compete.”

Free throws

Delaware was playing without guard Ebby Asamoah, who injured his ankle late in the Temple game on Saturday. ... This was the fifth time the Hens have played LIU. The first time was in 1931. ... Allen needs two more points to move past Mark Murray for fifth place on the program’s all-time scoring list. ... After the DSU game, Delaware hosts UMBC on Sunday at 2 p.m.