James Madison ends Hens' tournament dreams in final seconds
Published: Sunday, March 10, 2013
Updated: Monday, March 11, 2013 18:03
RICHMOND, Va. – For the second time this season, James Madison sent the Delaware men’s basketball team home with their heads hanging. A wild and controversial finish ended the Hens’ CAA final and NCAA Tournament dreams.
Two free throws by senior guard Devon Moore with 3.7 seconds left put the Dukes up 58-57. In response, head coach Monté Ross drew up a full court play in which senior forward Jamelle Hagins caught the ball near half court and passed it to junior guard Devon Saddler, who drove as far as he could before taking an off-balance jumper near the foul line.
The ball clanged off the rim and the Dukes stormed the court. Ross said the Hens got the ball in the right person’s hands and Saddler got a good look, but the shot just didn’t fall.
Delaware failed to execute on two key possessions at the end of the game, which proved the difference. The first involved a contentious play with sophomore guard Jarvis Threatt, who took an inbound pass with 13.3 seconds remaining and dribbled down the side of the court. As the defender approached, the referee blew the whistle and pointed to the line.
He ruled Threatt had dribbled out of bounds. All Threatt could muster up postgame was that the referee made the call he saw.
“Let me just say he wasn’t out of bounds,” Ross said in defense of his starting point guard. “He didn’t step out of bounds, the ball didn’t go out of bounds.”
The turnover allowed Moore to drive down the right lane into Hagins, who tied up the ball, but a foul was called. Ross said Hagins made a strong defensive move, but again it appeared a call went against the Hens, as there did not seem to be a lot of contact on the play.
The other time Delaware failed to capitalize came on the previous possession when Threatt took a 3-pointer with under a minute to play. Hagins collected his fourth offensive rebound of the night and went to pass the ball out of the paint, but a double team by James Madison defenders forced another turnover for the Hens, who had 16 on the night.
The Dukes dribbled up court and took a timeout to set up a game-winning shot with 39.5 seconds to play. However, Hens’ junior forward Carl Baptiste stepped in front of a driving Andre Nation, who hit the winner back on Feb. 17, and blocked the shot. Baptiste’s size caused a disadvantage all game for the Dukes as he collected nine rebounds, three of which were offensive boards.
The game seemed in hand for Delaware until Threatt’s miscue gave the ball back to James Madison.
The Hens had mounted a 10-point comeback when the team fell behind early in the second half. Threatt drove the lane but coughed up the ball, which the Dukes gathered and slammed home at the 17:23 mark.
Saddler, who had not made a field goal in the game yet and only had one point, finally got going for Delaware as he connected with his first bucket of the game with 16:14 left. The Hens started to force missed shots and asserted themselves on the glass.
“We knew that was a strength coming into the game […] when I didn’t have too many rebounds in the first half, I kind of focused on that in the second, made sure I attacked the glass,” Baptiste said.
Delaware’s 6-0 run brought the game within reach with less than 16 to play. Threatt then stepped up, scoring seven of his nine points in a row. First he swiped an offensive rebound and laid it in off the glass. After a defensive stop, the Richmond native drilled a 3-pointer to give the Hens a 47-46 lead. He continued with another layup on the Hens’ next possession to put them up three with 7:08 left in the game.
Delaware fought off numerous James Madison comebacks and extended its lead to 57-51 with just under 3 minutes to play but would not find the bottom of the net again.
The Hens hope to continue postseason play in another tournament, Ross said. His main job is to pick the team up after the tough loss and then focus on remaining games, he said.
“The biggest thing about college athletics is you ask these guys to give their blood, their heart, their soul or their guts,” Ross said. “I’m so appreciative of my team because they gave me that, and I couldn’t have asked them for anything else tonight.”