2014 CAA Championship: Delaware Keeps William and Mary From History

Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

William and Mary tried to make a little history for itself with its run through the CAA Tournament. But Delaware, a team that has overcome quite a bit over the last 15 years, had other ideas.

Just when you thought everything was going William and Mary's way, things turn. Just when you felt like this would finally be the year that the Tribe broke through into the NCAA Tournament, your heart gets crushed.

Welcome to March, Tribe fans. By now, you should be used to this.

Delaware refused to go away and let William and Mary have its glory, winning on flush by Carl Baptiste, 75-74, and bringing home its first conference title in 15 years.

That was back when Delaware was still in the America East Conference, after it had just changed its name from the North Atlantic. They had won two conference titles in a row, part of four during their 10 years in the league. They looked like domination would be theirs for a while.

And then those teams up north migrated into the CAA and the drought was born.

Think about this a little longer too: Delaware is the first member of that group from the America East conference to win the CAA Tournament, despite two tries by Drexel and one each by Hofstra and Northeastern. Forget that it took VCU, and George Mason, and Old Dominion leaving. This Blue Hens team deserved to take this title.

Consider that they played most of the season with a rotating cast of players, with Devon Saddler missing time, and Jarvis Threatt missing time, and week after week, this team had to fill in the gaps in its starting lineup. Monte Ross didn't have it easy on his way to the title. He had to work for this.

The Blue Hens had to work for this too, Monday night. It seemed that this was going to go to William and Mary given the bounces that the Tribe were getting in the second half.

On the play when William and Mary first took its final lead in the second half, the ball was loose off a rare Marcus Thornton 3-pointer. It bounced around and eventually went off Tim Rusthoven right into the waiting hands of Omar Prewitt under the basket.

You couldn't attempt to pass the ball that way. You needed this to bounce just right and have a little luck. Prewitt put it in and it was 66-65.

Then Marcus Thornton got open on the wing for 3-pointer and a minute later added a two from the same spot. He just got every shot he wanted, as if Delaware forgot that the man with the lock dreads was on the floor.

It almost seemed over when Prewitt found himself on the opposite wing, and casually tossed in a 3-pointer. Yes, the freshman that will be one of the cornerstones of this Tribe offense hit a stone cold shot. There was a minute left. This was all but a coronation for William and Mary.

But Delaware refused to lose this, not after all they had been through this season. And it was the guys that had missed the time that came up the biggest for them.

Saddler and Threatt attacked the rim and forced William and Mary to try and stop them, and they couldn't. Saddler hit his shots, then Threatt.

And finally, with time running down, Saddler did what he does when he can't do everything. He passed it to Carl Baptiste, who had 24 points and eight rebounds to lead the Blue Hens.

The Marcus Thornton jumper, finally contested, with a single second remaining, didn't go, but it was close.

Just missed, just like William and Mary did Monday night.

Delaware, through all the changes in the past, and this season, is dancing again.

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