Delaware torches Hampton to set up Hofstra rematch in CAA quarterfinals

BY DANIEL STEENKAMER
Managing Sports Editor

Delaware men’s basketball failed to avoid the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) tournament second round with its placement as the No. 6 seed on Saturday.  

The Blue Hens, though, only needed one half of work in Washington, D.C. to ensure that they would join their double-bye CAA rivals in the league quarterfinals on Sunday. 

Delaware demoralized Hampton University by ending the first half with a 51-16 runaway lead before stamping an 80-50 win. The Hens held ice-cold Hampton, the 14th and final seed, to 5-of-34 field goal shooting (14.7%) in the opening half. The Pirates were especially dreadful from long range, suffering through 1-of-14 (7.1%) three-point aim in the first 20 minutes as Delaware put any Cinderella idea to bed.

“My mindset was, ‘Let’s get these core group of guys some rest,’” Delaware head coach Martin Ingelsby said after the blowout win. “We know what’s coming tomorrow night.”

By advancing to Sunday night’s quarterfinal, the Blue Hens earned a second chance this season against third-seeded Hofstra University. With the Pride resting through the first two days of the conference bracket, it was all the more advantageous, or perhaps something approaching an equalizer, that Delaware could sit its starters for the bulk of the second half against Hampton.

In the Hens’ romp, regular starters Jyáre Davis, Christian Ray, Gerald Drumgoole Jr. and Niels Lane each turned in fewer than 17 minutes total. 

With the game in hand for Delaware at the midpoint, Blue Hen reserves such as junior guard Kobe Jerome got more shine in the tourney lights. Jerome chipped in five points, four rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes, which was his season high in playing time.

“Kobe’s been on my mind the last couple weeks,” Ingelsby said. “I think he earned it with how he practiced this week, and I really tried to give him confidence. It gives us another ball handler, it gives us another shot-maker, a decision-maker, it takes pressure off of Jalun [Trent] and Gerald [Drumgoole Jr.]. 

“I told him at shootaround this morning, I was like, ‘Be ready to go. I’m gonna get you in there.’ I just think he helps us move on the offensive end.”

Delaware junior guard Kobe Jerome (above) received increased playing time Saturday, tallying five points, four rebounds and three assists in 25 minutes of action. Daniel Steenkamer/THE REVIEW

Delaware’s offense was easy to take for granted in the first half given Hampton’s woes, but the Blue Hens were several steps ahead of the Pirates throughout the contest thanks to the Hens’ own offensive prowess as well.

Delaware blasted Hampton with 19-of-30 (63.3%) field goal shooting in the first stanza. In the period, the Blue Hens got 14 of Drumgoole’s 17 points, nine of Cavan Reilly’s 14, eight of Trent’s 12 and all nine of Davis’ total.

By the final horn of the CAA’s nightcap, Delaware shot 48.3% from the field, 42.9% from beyond the arc and 15-of-19 at the foul line. The Hens’ 80-point output came despite backups largely comprising the 29-point second half.

Ingelsby appreciated the synergy shown by the alternates in his rotation.

“That group that came in, they’ve played a lot together on the blue team every day, so there’s some continuity, there’s some familiarity with what we want to do and how we want to play,” Ingelsby said of his second string.

Delaware will need every bit of depth it can muster when facing Hofstra, which defeated the Blue Hens 76-71 Jan. 6 on Long Island.

In that victory, Hofstra enjoyed double figures in scoring by graduate guard Tyler Thomas (22), junior guard Darlinstone Dubar (18) and graduate forward Jacco Fritz (15). Thomas is the CAA Player of the Year as voted upon by conference head coaches.

Under Ingelsby, Delaware is 3-16 versus Hofstra. Its most recent triumph came Jan. 15, 2021, a 74-56 Blue Hens win in the Bob Carpenter Center.

The Blue Hens have struggled versus Hofstra under Martin Ingelsby (above), but will look to change that Sunday night in the CAA quarterfinals. Daniel Steenkamer/THE REVIEW

With its shellacking of Hampton in the books, however, Delaware will aim to be sufficiently rested and confident to shake the series mojo opposing Hofstra. The Hens left a mark on the Pirates, whose 23.4% field goal night broke Delaware’s record for worst by a foe in the CAA tournament.

“We were not mentally or physically prepared for what we ran into tonight,” Hampton head coach Edward Joyner Jr. said postgame. “I think the beginning of that starts with me, obviously, I did not have them prepared for what we ran into tonight.

“When adversity hit, we went out the window.”

Delaware squares off against Hofstra at 8:30 p.m. tonight at the Entertainment & Sports Arena. Listen to the live broadcast on 91.3 WVUD FM or on wvud.org.