Delaware outlasts William & Mary for CAA championship

Delaware outlasts William & Mary for CAA championship
March 10, 2014, 9:30 pm
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Delaware Blue Hens players celebrate after beating the William and Mary Tribe 75-74 during the championship game of the Colonial Athletic Conference basketball tournament at Baltimore Arena.

(Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

Carl Baptiste made a lay-up with 12 seconds left to give top-seeded Delaware a 75-74 victory over third-seeded William & Mary in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game Monday night at the Baltimore Arena. The Blue Hens scored the game's final seven points to pull out the victory. 

The victory gives Delaware its fifth NCAA tournament berth in school history and the first since 1999. The Blue Hens improved to 25-9 overall this season, and William & Mary dropped to 20-12 after losing to Delaware for the third time this year. William & Mary had a 74-68 lead with just over a minute left before the Blue Hens rallied. 

[RELATED Maryland will be No. 8 seed in ACC tournament] 

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: Baptiste, Delaware's 6-foot-9 senior forward, finished with a career-high 24 points. William & Mary had problems stopping him all night, and it happened again on the decisive play. Devon Saddler made a quick pass to Baptiste down low, and he turned and laid it in. He made nine of 11 shots from the field and six of seven from the line -- and added eight rebounds. Coach Monte' Ross said he originally wanted the play to go to Saddler (16 points), but the guard said to go to the big guy. "He powered and bulled his way to the basket. It was crowded in there," Ross said. 

TWO BIG PLAYS: Saddler made two key free throws with 51 seconds left to cut the lead to 74-70, and Jarvis Threatt (18 points, tournament MVP) made a three-point play with 51 seconds left to cut the Tribe's lead to one. That put the Blue Hens in position for Baptiste's game-winning play. 

HELPING IN DIFFERENT WAYS: Davon Usher's been a key player for Delaware all season. He didn't have a good night shooting -- making only two of 10 from the field -- but both were three-pointers in the final 6:19 that really hurt the Tribe. The first one gave the Blue Hens a four-point lead and the second cut the Tribe's lead to one with 3:25 left. Usher also pulled down 10 rebounds and added five assists. 

THEY HAD A CHANCE: The Tribe had a shot at the win even after Baptiste's lay-up. Marcus Thornton, who led the team with 22 points, missed on a jumper with one second left to let Delaware hold on.  

FREE THROWS AND MISSED OPPS: Free throws are what will probably drive William & Mary crazy about this game. The Tribe made just three of 11 foul shots. The team had only one second half free-throw, and that came when Omar Prewitt missed the front end of a one-and-one with 58 seconds left. The Tribe had a 74-70 lead at the time, and that left the door open for Delaware to come back. "We really competed down the stretch. We fought and we fought and we fought  until we got back in it," Tribe coach Tony Shaver.

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