Hempstead, NY - Pride sophomore Moussa Kone had a career-best 18 points, but Delaware rallied from a five-point halftime deficit to post a 57-56 Colonial Athletic Association win over Hofstra Wednesday night at the Mack Sports Complex. The Blue Hens pulled ahead of Hofstra late in the game and then held off a rally in the final minute.
Hofstra falls to 7-23 overall and 4-13 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Delaware, which clinched the second seed in the upcoming CAA Championship with the win, improves to 17-13 overall and 12-5 in the CAA.
Hofstra, which never trailed in the first half, jumped out to a 12-2 lead in the first 8:39 behind seven points from Kone and five from David Imes. The Blue Hens scored the next seven points as Devon Saddler scored four consecutive points followed by a Kyle Anderson three-pointer to pull Delaware within three, 12-9, with 9:01 to play. But Hofstra used another run, this one a 13-3 spurt, to take a 25-12 lead with 5:22 to play on three free throws from Stevie Mejia.
Delaware, which was held to 23-percent shooting in the half, closed out the opening stanza with an 11-3 run to pull within five, 28-23, at halftime. Saddler had five points in the run, while the Delaware defense limited the Pride to just one field goal in the final 5:22, a layup from Kone, who finished with 14 first half points to tie his career-high.
The Pride scored the first basket of the second half, a jumper by Taran Buie, to take a seven-point lead before Delaware scored seven straight points to tie the score for the first time in the contest at 30-30 with 15:12 to go. Jamelle Hagins and Saddler had a pair of free throws sandwiched around an Anderson three-pointer.
The two teams would trade baskets before a Mejia three-pointer gave the Pride a 35-32 lead with 12:55 to play. A traditional three-point play by Saddler would tie the score for the third time in the half at 35 with just over 11 minutes remaining.
Delaware would take its first lead of the game, 37-35, at the 10:33 mark on a pair of free throws from Saddler. A Darren Payen jumper from the baseline tied the score again, but Delaware went on a 5-2 run to take a 42-39 lead with 7:27 to play on three points from Jarvis Threatt and two from Larry Savage. A three-pointer from Saddler pushed the lead to six before Mejia answered with a three of his home to make it a three-point game. Mejia then knocked down a pair of free throws to bring the Pride back within one, 45-44, with 5:47 remaining.
Jordan Allen would continue the Hofstra scoring run with a jumper to give Hofstra the lead once again, 46-45, with 4:45 to go. A three-point play by Delaware's Carl Baptiste gave Delaware a 48-46 lead, but Imes answered with a jumper in the paint to tie the game at 48. On Delaware's next possession, Threatt put the Hens back up by three with a three-pointer from the top of the arc with 2:33 to play. Following a Hofstra turnover, the Delaware sophomore hit a driving layup in traffic to give the visitor's a five-point edge, 53-48, with 1:32 on the clock. Kone would knock down two free throws to make it a three-point game with 1:06 remaining.
Delaware would go back up by five on free throws by Threatt and Baptiste before an Imes three-pointer made it a two-point lead with 41 seconds left. Hofstra tried for a defensive stop on Delaware's next possession and forced a tough shot from Saddler. But Anderson snuck in from the weak side and put back the offensive rebound to give Delaware a 57-53 lead. Mejia had a three-pointer with less than a second left to account for the final score.
Mejia finished with 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals in the game, while Imes added 10 points and a team-best seven rebounds.
Saddler led all scorers with 19 points. Threatt added 12 points and Anderson had 10 to complete a trio of Blue Hens in double-figures. Hagins had a game-high 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.
The two teams will meet again in the CAA Championship Quarterfinals in the 2/7 matchup as Hofstra is locked into the seventh seed. That game will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 9 at the Richmond Coliseum.
Prior to the start of the game Hofstra honored seniors Mejia, Imes and Matt Grogan as the trio played their final game at the Mack Sports Complex. The Pride closes out the regular season Saturday at Towson. Game time at the Towson Center is 4 p.m.