If the seven teams in this year's CAA Tournament were excited to leave Richmond behind as the host for the conference tournament next year, they sure aren't showing it. These two days have been packed with five tight, thrilling games, keeping the Coliseum's audience scintillated one last time.
In what was the second game decided by one point on Sunday afternoon, James Madison's Devon Moore converted two free throws with 3.7 seconds left in the game to send the Dukes into Monday's CAA Championship.
Moore and A.J. Davis were the respective heroes of the night for the Dukes, as was to be expected if JMU expected to have a chance at topping a far more offensively gifted Hens team.
For his part, aside from the game-winning free throws (kind of a big aside, I know), Moore filled stat sheet like his name was LeBron James. He finished the night with 14 points on 53.85 percent scoring efficiency, and tacked on 7 rebounds and 6 assists for good measure.
And Davis, who made all four of his two-point field goal attempts on the night, finished with a game-high 16 points, including a few absolutely monstrous dunks to continue his hot streak as of late. He has now scored at least 16 points in seven straight games, and will be called on again tomorrow night to do the same if the Dukes want to stick with the high-flying Northeastern offense.
However, Delaware should have won this game.
That's right, I said it. Despite all of that fabulous offensive play from the Dukes, the Blue Hens should have a date with the Huskies on Monday night.
But when it came down to it, their offense couldn't convert.
For example, if you look at the box score, you'll notice that Delaware has picked up 13 offensive rebounds, compared to JMU's four. They destroyed the Dukes' weak inside game with a combination of Jamelle Hagins and Carl Baptiste, who combined for 21 points and 21 rebounds.
Which explains why they took a combined 12 shots and sat idly by while Devon Saddler, clearly not in a rhythm throughout the night, took 14 of his own. Saddler finished 3 of 14 from the field for just seven points, and yet Delaware head coach let him continue to chuck the ball at the hoop while his effective and advantageously matched big men fell by the wayside.
I'm a Drexel fan, and even for me it was frustrating to watch the Hens overlook this easy source of offense.
Yet Devon Saddler isn't the only Blue Hen who can score in a tight spot, and with his team down by five points with under nine minutes remaining, Jarvis Threatt decided it was time to step up.
With 8:54 left, Josh Brinkley knocked down a free throw to make it a four point game. For the next two minutes and 12 seconds, Delaware dropped a 10-0 run on the Dukes, with seven coming from Threatt. The kid was fired up, as he should have been.
But then the aforementioned A.J. Davis answered back and scored five of his 16 down the stretch, including two free throws to make it a one-point game with 82 seconds remaining.
Possessions were traded and shots were missed, and eventually the Hens had an inbounds pass with 13 seconds on the clock, still up by one. That's a no-lose situation in 99 percent of college basketball games, but Jarvis Threatt found that rare one percent.
James Madison pressured the inbounds pass perfectly, forcing Threatt to dribble out of bounds before he was fouled. On the ensuing possession, Moore took fate into his own hands and drew the deciding foul shots.
Imagine that: a senior with the potential final possession of his career decided to put the onus squarely on himself in crunch time.
Devon Moore walked to the line with his career on it. He looked fundamental basketball in the eyes and said, "I've been practicing my free throws, coach."
And now Moore and the Dukes have at least one more game on their ever-expanding schedule. The Championship game with Northeastern will take place tomorrow at 7 PM, and can be seen on NBCSN.