Delaware Fends Off Hofstra's Surprise Threat

Heading into the first round of the CAA Tournament, few would've expected the Hofstra-Delaware matchup to end closer than the Drexel-George Mason game. But Stevie Mejia had a few tricks up his sleeve to keep this game close until the very end.

The CAA no longer stands for Colonial Athletic Association. It stands for Crazy Awesome Action.

While the conference doesn't feature Bracket Buster teams like a Creighton or St. Louis, there's an undeniable energy coming from the conference. Each game is competitive, be it a 4 seed-5 seed matchup or tonight's 2 seed-7 seed matchup between Delaware and Hofstra.

The Pride had a tough season all year long, the low-light of which saw two starters suspended indefinitely, so their ownership of a halftime lead was a bright spot for Mo Cassara;s squad. How did they get there, you ask?

Well, Hofstra only made nine shots from the field in the first half. When you combine that with the fact that Delaware averages over 10 more points per game than their opponents, it defies all reason to think that the Pride would be up by three heading into halftime.

Right?

Logical or not, that's exactly where the game stood after twenty minutes: Hofstra up on Delaware, 27-24. The Pride relied heavily on Stevie Mejia, David Imes, and Taran Buie, their three legitimate scoring threats, and then went to work on defense.

Despite being out-rebounded and out-blocked, the Pride were able to limit the Hens' shot selection for twenty straight minutes, daring Delaware to beat them with their core three of Devon Saddler, Jamelle Hagins, and Jarvis Threatt. There's no lack of talent there for the Hens, but the key to their success before Saturday's game was their support scoring. The Pride limited that in the first half, giving themselves a surprising but appreciated cushion going into the half.

As the second half began, the story remained very much the same. Delaware's big contributors continued to pour in, but their supporting cast did little to further the cause. As a result, players like Mejia and Buie were able to find their points, ensuring that, in the first 29:56 of the game, the lead never grew past four (on either side.)

Mejia did his best all night to keep the Pride energized, but Devon Saddler proved to be too much for the Pride defense in the end. 14 of his 22 points came in the second half, and while a little more offense was traded afterwards, his three-pointer with 3:06 was essentially the death knell for Hofstra.

However, Taran Buie wasn't ready to accept the coming defeat. He drained a three with 18 seconds remaining, pulling his team to within three points. When Jarvis Threatt was fouled on the subsequent possession, the Hens were faced with a deciding trip to the foul line. The second-best free throw shooting team in the CAA during the regular season, Delaware had made just three of their eight attempts in the first half.

But Threatt was able to come up in the clutch and knock down both, and the Hens walked off the court with a 62-57 victory.

Delaware now moves on to play the winner of the James Madison-Wiliam & Mary matchup (currently taking place as I write) tomorrow at 4:30 PM for a spot in the CAA Championship.

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