As Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich directed the Pride’s offense in the early minutes of his team’s game with top-seeded Delaware, Blue Hens coach Monte Ross looked on with dismay. The game was less than 10 minutes in, but the fans inside Baltimore Arena could already sense an upset.
But in the second-half, it was Mihalich raising his voice on the sideline. Despite falling behind 28-19 10 minutes into the first half, the Blue Hens used an 11-2 run to start the second-half to fend off a pesky Hofstra squad 87-76.
Delaware was led by Baltimore native Davon Usher, who finished with 28 points and eight rebounds. Zeke Upshaw led Hofstra with 23 points.
“Hofstra did and excellent job of making shots, and we gave up a lot of layups in the first half,” Ross said. “I thought we did a better job in the second-half.”
Early on, Delaware had no answer for Upshaw. The 6-foot-6 senior poured in 11 points in the first half, including two 3-pointers with hands in his face. The Pride scored on their first four shots..
Two free throws from Aberdeen graduate Devon Saddler tied the game at 32 with less than three minutes to play in the first half. But Upshaw responded, hitting a 3-pointer to give the Pride another lead. Hofstra took a 40-37 advantage into the break, much the same way they did against Delaware in both of their regular season meetings.
But the second half was a disaster for Hofstra.
Usher made a 3-pointer for Delaware on the Blue Hens' opening possession. With just under 15 minutes to play, Upshaw picked up his fourth foul, forcing with him to the bench for much of the second half.
With Upshaw out of the game, Delaware pulled away. The Blue Hens opened up a 60-53 lead with 11 minutes to play.
Hofstra had opportunities for second chance points on their next three possessions, but only came away with one basket. Two free-throws from Delaware point guard Jarvis Threatt gave Delaware a 67-58 lead with under nine minutes left.
Threatt said that Hofstra, which was playing its second-game in less than 24 hours, started to wear down as the game wore on.
“That definitely played a part,” Threatt said. “We’re gifted offensively, but we pride ourselves on defense. We made a couple of adjustsments and [made] them shoot some tough shots."
Two minutes later, Upshaw re-entered the game. But a steal and a fast-break layup by Threatt gave Delaware a 75-65 lead with five minutes to play. An alley-oop from Threatt to Delaware forward Carl Baptiste stretched Delaware’s lead to 12.
Late turnovers from Delaware let Hofstra make the score 80-75 with one minute to play. But a missed 3-pointer from Upshaw with 45 seconds left put the Pride’s comeback hopes to bed.
Delaware will play Northeastern -- which beat Drexel 90-81 on Saturday -- at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.