After a seemingly endless string of tight games, the Tribe returned home to Kaplan Arena Wednesday in search of a comfortable win over a squad in the bottom half of the CAA standings. Against a tired Delaware squad playing on just one day of rest, the College (17-7, 9-5 CAA) got just that, pounding out an efficient 67-54 victory that built vital momentum heading into Saturday’s showdown with first-place Northeastern.
“It was a gutsy performance tonight,” Head Coach Tony Shaver said. “We had two or three guys with a pretty serious case of the flue, and it was tough for them to play as well as they did. It was a good, tough conference win.”
The victory was the College’s third in its past four games and its first by multiple possessions since a Jan. 16 win over Hofstra.
The Tribe was able to return to the formula that had spurred it to a 14-2 start to the season, relying on hot shooting and balanced scoring to finish off a season sweep of the Blue Hens (7-18, 3-11 CAA).
Nine of the squad’s 10 rotation players tallied points, while the College shot 51% from the floor and 47% from three-point range.
“Our practices Monday and Tuesday were really two of the best we’ve had in about a month,” Shaver said. “You could sense some good things happening.”
Sophomore guard Quinn McDowell was particularly efficient, knocking down all six of his shots for 11 points, while junior center Marcus Kitts and senior guard David Schneider accounted for 29 points on 9 of 20 shooting between them.
“A lot of guys had great nights tonight,” Schneider said. “We just need that balanced scoring that we had earlier in the season.”
The College came out hot, opening up a 30-14 lead with 4:12 remaining in the first half. After playing UNC-Wilmington Monday due to a snow postponement, Delaware was clearly a step slow, getting into foul trouble early, and missing 24 of their first 29 shots.
But the Blue Hens clawed back, hitting their last six shots of the half to embark on a 15-3 run and cut the lead to 32-29 entering the break.
“They really rely on their guards, so they can easily get out of a hole,” Schneider said. “It’s hard to limit them, especially when they get going.”
After the intermission, Shaver dialed up a three-point play which saw Schneider bury a deep three, before senior guard Sean McCurdy answered with a trey of his own. The lead immediately swelled to nine points, and it would never drop below three the rest of the evening.
“That’s probably the best start we’ve had coming out of a half,” Schneider said. “That pretty much sealed the deal the rest of the half. It sent a message to our team.”
Delaware cut the deficit to 53-50 with 6:38 remaining, but a pair of free throws from Schneider sparked the College to a 9-0 run that would ice the game.
Coupled with a Hofstra win over Drexel and George Mason’s Tuesday win over Virginia Commonwealth, the win returned the Tribe to fourth place in the conference, temporarily in position to receive the final CAA tournament bye.
It also saw the College break out of its lengthy shooting slump just in time for matchups against first-place Northeastern and second-place George Mason in the week ahead.
“We have to come out with the same aggression that we had tonight,” Schneider said “This win should give us a lot of confidence.”
For a final box score, click here.