Baltimore, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - With the Colonial Athletic Association's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament up for grabs, the top-seeded Delaware Blue Hens do battle with the third-seeded William & Mary Tribe in the tournament title tilt at Baltimore Arena on Monday night.
Delaware had a fairly easy run through its first two contests of the tournament. The Blue Hens defeated Hofstra, 87-76, in the quarterfinals and followed than up with an 87-74 triumph over Northeastern in Sunday's semifinals. Yesterday's win was the 24th of the season for the Blue Hens, who have not accomplished that feat since the 1999-2000 season.
William & Mary pulled off a minor upset over No. 2 Towson, 75-71, on Sunday in the semis. The Tribe have won four of their last five games, including a 70-59 triumph over the College of Charleston in the quarterfinals of this event.
Each of these teams is in search of its first-ever conference tournament title. Delaware came out on top in both meetings during the regular season, earning a 76-71 win on Jan. 15 and an 89-72 triumph on Jan. 29. As a result, the Blue Hens lead the all-time series by a 21-8 margin.
Led by a game-high 21 points from Marcus Thornton, the Tribe were able to get to the CAA finals for the first time since 1983 with their win over Towson. The game featured 10 ties and eight lead changes, but William & Mary led for the entire second half, when it shot an even 60 percent from the floor, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range.
The Tribe's play after intermission was more in tune to the tempo at which they normally play. They pace the CAA in both field goal percentage (.474) and assists (13.9 apg), leading to the third-best scoring average (73.1 ppg) in the league. Thornton (18.6 ppg) is the top option for the team, sinking 43.2 percent of his shots and ranking fifth in the CAA in scoring. Tim Rusthoven (11.9 ppg) missed some time this season, but is a solid second option, while Brandon Britt (10.9 ppg) and Omar Prewitt (11.3 ppg) also work into the mix, despite mostly coming off the bench.
Jarvis Threatt scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out five assists, while Devon Saddler added 16 points and nine assists for Delaware in its win over Northeastern. The Blue Hens connected on an impressive 59.3 percent of their shots from the floor, including a 7-of-14 showing from 3- point range.
Threatt (18.1 ppg, 5.6 apg) and Saddler (19.8 ppg) are both impressive talents at the guard position, and each has helped Delaware to the best scoring average in the CAA this season (79.7 ppg). The firepower doesn't stop there, as Davon Usher (19.7 ppg) is more than capable of lighting it up. He netted a team-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting in Sunday's win. Kyle Anderson (11.1 ppg) and Carl Baptiste (10.9 ppg) lend further scoring punch. If there is a weakness for Delaware it is its lack of depth, with no reserve scoring more than 5.3 ppg.