The top-seeded Blue Hens were nearly unstoppable in a long stretch of the second half and ran away from Northeastern 87-74 Sunday in a tournament semifinal at First Mariner Arena.
Davon Usher (21 points) led five players in double figures as Delaware (24-9) shot a season-best 59 percent. The Blue Hens made 18 of their first 21 shots in the second half, turning a close game into a rout.
“In the second half, our energy and intensity was where it needed to be on defense,” Hens coach Monte’ Ross said. “That fueled our guys’ ability to make shots. They made their coach look like he knew what he was doing.”
Fifth-seeded Northeastern (11-21) fought back from an early 14-point deficit, but had no answer for Delaware’s second-half surge. The Blue Hens got to the basket, made layups and 3-pointers and everything in between.
Devon Saddler scored 16 points and had nine of the Hens’ 18 assists. Jarvis Threatt finished with 19 points, five assists and an eye-opening 11 rebounds, and was a bear to keep out of the lane. Fellow guard. Fellow guard Kyle Anderson added 10 points and hit a pair of 3-pointers.
During a 7-minute span of the second half, Delaware scored 28 points on 15 possessions, turning a two-point lead into a 74-52 spread.
“These guys can score,” Ross said. “I’d be foolish to sit here and tell you I did this and this and this. These guys can score. Saddler probably scored at conception. … There are times I just get out of the way.”
Delaware lost in the semifinals last year to eventual champ James Madison. The Blue Hens have advanced past the quarterfinals just three times since joining the league.
“I feel something special about this team,” Saddler said. “I think we can make it happen.”