DOVER — The first two growing pains the Delaware State men’s basketball teams have had to go through have been particularly painful.
For the second-straight game, the Hornets were out-dueled down the stretch when they had an opportunity to win.
The University of Pennsylvania scored seven unanswered points during a two-minute span at the end of the second half to hand DelState a 60-54 nonconference defeat on Tuesday night at Memorial Hall.
The Hornets (0-2) also lost by six in their opener last Friday when they blew a 15-point second half lead to Delaware and were out-scored 23-4 to end the game.
“We just got to get better down the stretch,” said junior DeAndre Haywood who led the Hornets with 13 points.
This time DelState had to play from behind as the Quakers went on a 9-0 run to start the second half after the game was 26-26.
Haywood came off the bench to spark the Hornets with five straight points until they tied it on freshman Dana Raysor’s three. The two teams traded buckets over the course of the next four minutes before DSU took a 52-51 lead with 2:57 left when freshman Devin Morgan Jr. hit a layup, was fouled and converted the free throw.
But the Hornets didn’t score again until Haywood’s layup with 16 seconds remaining while the Quakers had a two-possession lead.
“I thought we made too many mistakes during the most important part of the game,” DelState coach Keith Walker said.
Walker added that those mistakes were on both ends of the court.
“We missed certain defensive rotations then the execution on the offensive side wasn’t very good,” he said. “But those are things we can correct.”
Matt Howard’s layup with 2:53 left gave Penn the lead for good during a stretch where the Quakers scored on their last six possessions of the game.
After a Haywood missed jumper, Penn’s Darien Nelson-Henry hit a turnaround bank shot in the post. Following another DSU miss, Howard made it a two-possession game off a tip-in from a missed three.
Penn shot 54.5 percent in the second half despite being held to 31 percent in the first half by DelState.
“You have to like the progression but as I told the guys we have to have some guys step up and show some leadership especially in the closing moments,” Walker said. “I see some good signs that we’re going to be much better. But with the team that we have, we’re going to need some poise and some leadership.”
Nelson-Henry was the game’s leading scorer with 16 points.
Morgan Jr., in his second career game and first start at point guard, again scored in double figures with 12 points (career-high). Kavon Waller was next for DSU with nine and Todd Hughes (a Smyrna native) followed with eight.
Haywood was the Hornets’ leading scorer despite playing just 21 minutes.
“I felt like we had to attack in the second half,” he said. “We were settling for too many jump shots.”
DelState played 12 different players in the game – six of them are in their first year with the program.
“This is a big work in progress with new guys and coach is looking for them to do a lot,” Haywood said. “We have to practice hard and then these games we’ve got to finish them out. We’ve got to come together as a team so we can get ready for conference play.”
Penn starts the season 3-0 for the first time since 1981-1982. … The Quakers were held to 3-of-23 of three-point attempts (13 percent) by DSU. … The Hornets have a quick turnaround with a trip to Nebraska for a game on Thursday at 8 p.m. They then return home for a Saturday contest against Lamar at noon. … DSU freshman and Polytech grad Devaughn Mallory played four minutes in the first half and grabbed a pair of rebounds.