This was possibly the best game of the tournament so far. Northeastern and Delaware split the season series, each winning on the road. Northeastern came into this game as the #3 seed, also one of the 4 teams that finish with a 12-6 conference record, while #6 seed Delaware came in winning 6 out of their last 9 games.
Huskies came out on top 67-64 in a game that came down to the wire. Huskies walked into the 2nd half with 35-31 lead that they some how managed to keep for the entire half. Delaware threatened that lead numerous times, tying it once early in the half and cutting it to 1 twice in the final two minutes. Huskies twice went up 8 and twice the Blue Hens cut it short.
Sophomore guard, Cazmon Hayes scored all 9 of his points within the first 2 minutes of the game, tying the ball game at 40. Other role players like Zach Stahl of Northeastern (13 points, 6 boards, 5 dimes), and Barnett Harris for Delaware - who contributions doesn't show on the stat sheet - also provided big minutes.
Delaware came within one, 60-61, with 2 minutes remaining in the game. Up to that point they had built some momentum, forcing 7 Northeastern turnovers and a couple big dunks from Marvin King-Davis. Unfortunately for the Blue Hens though, the refs would slow down that momentum with a very controversial "5 second to the basket" call on Kory Holden, that should have never been called. It's really disappointing when referees want to enforce their authority, which seemed to be the case in this game, not allowing the game to be play out on the court.
The Huskies would score on the next possession, and the Blue Hens would score again to keep it at a 1-point game, but that controversial call stopped the bleeding for the Huskies, allowing them to regain their composure. Still the Blue Hens had opportunities, David Walker missing a free throw with 23 seconds left, giving the Blue Hens an opportunity to take the lead but Chivarsky Corbett missed the layup after Holden dished him the rock. Walker would hit his final four free throws to close out the game. He finished with 17, 3-4 from behind the arc.
Kory Holden led all scorers with 20 points, scoring 16 in the first half. I was impressed with the Maryland native, playing his high school ball in the Eastern Shore at J.M. Bennett, because of his composure throughout the game. Never did he seem rattle and he said in the press conference that he looked at it like another basketball game. As a coach you love to see that from your freshman point guard. I did want to see Holden take the final shot in those last two attempts but the young man was looking to give his teammates an opportunity, can't fault him for that.
Northeastern will now play UNCW in the Semi-final round, which should be fun to watch. Junior Quicy Ford, led the team with 16 points and recently eclipsed 1,000 points before the tournament. Ford missed the CAA Tournament last season out with a back injury, and I can tell he is extremely motivated to finish this tournament strong.