ATLANTA, GA – University of Delaware junior guard Devon Saddler
buried a contested three-pointer just before the final buzzer as the
Blue Hens posted a dramatic 86-83 victory over Georgia State
Saturday afternoon at the GSU Sports Arena.
The Panthers rallied from an 11-point deficit with 1:41 remaining to knot the contest at 83-83 with six seconds left on a pair of free throws by Ryann Green. But Saddler took the inbounds pass, dribbled to the left side of the key, and drained a 23-footer with :0.8 seconds left to give Delaware the win. Georgia State had one final chance, but Jamelle Hagins intercepted the Panthers' last inbounds pass.
The Blue Hens have now won five consecutive games, improving to 8-8 overall and 3-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Delaware also posted its fifth straight win over Georgia State, including three in Atlanta, by a total of 13 points. UD, which has taken its last 10 regular season league games, is one of two unbeaten teams in the conference, along with Northeastern.
The Panthers, who dropped their second straight game and seventh of the last eight contests, fell to 6-11 overall and 1-3 in the CAA.
Saddler, the leading scorer in the CAA, scored a game-high 29 points to record his sixth 20-point effort of the season. He knocked down 10 of 14 shots from the field including 3 of 5 from three-point range, was 6 of 8 from the foul line, and contributed six points and three assists. Jarvis Threatt added 18 points and went 10 of 12 from the charity stripe, while Josh Brinkley finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
Hagins, who entered the day as the nation's leading rebounder at 12.3 boards per game, tallied 11 points, seven rebounds, and four assists on the afternoon. He tied the school record for career rebounds, as he and Spencer Dunkley each have 916 for their career.
Manny Atkins paced Georgia State with 20 points and went 4 of 9 from behind the arc, while Devonta White chipped in with 18 points and a game-high six assists. R.J. Hunter added 15 points and a game-best eight rebounds, while Rashaad Richardson had 15 points, all but two in the first half.
Georgia State shot 52.9 percent in the opening 20 minutes, taking a 42-37 halftime lead over the Blue Hens. But two free throws by Threatt put Delaware in front early in the second half, and after five straight Panthers points, six consecutive UD points gave the Blue Hens a 52-51 edge with 14:22 remaining.
Moments later the game was tied at 53-53 but Delaware used a 7-2 run, capped on a three-point play by Threatt, to take a 60-55 margin at the 10:41 mark. After five consecutive Georgia State points, Saddler knocked down a pair of foul shots and Kyle Anderson buried a tough baseline jumper to put the Blue Hens back up four at 64-60 with eight minutes to play.
Delaware's lead was just 66-65 with 6:53 left, but the Blue Hens exploded for a crucial 8-0 run to give them a nine-point cushion. Saddler opened the spurt with a three-pointer, and after Brinkley hit a jumper and one of two free throws, Threatt nailed a pair from the line to increase the margin to 74-65 with 5:06 to play.
The Blue Hens' advantage eventually grew to as much as 11 points at 81-70 on two more foul shots from Threatt, before the Panthers made their late run. Georgia State closed within 83-79 on a Kevin Shaw three-pointer with 52.9 seconds left, and after Anderson missed a pair of free throws, White hit a pair from the line to cut the margin to two with 41 seconds to play.
Threatt then missed an off-balance jumper, and after Green corralled the defensive rebound for GSU, he was fouled on a reach in by Terrell Rogers. Green then knocked down two fouls shots to knot the contest with six seconds remaining, before Saddler's final heroics.
"I'm disappointed in our late-game performance; we have high standards as a team and we didn't live up to them at the end," said seventh-year Blue Hen head coach Monté Ross. "But great players make great shots, and I'm very pleased that Devon's shot went in for us. I thought he did a good job defensively on Hunter today, and we were able to get some stops in the second half that enabled us to stretch out the lead."
"I missed a couple free throws earlier, so I had to make up for that," said Saddler. "I wanted the ball at the end, and was confident I'd make a big shot for us."
The Blue Hens turned the ball over on their first three possessions of the game, as Georgia State took a 7-0 lead two minutes into the contest. Saddler answered with five consecutive points for the Blue Hens, but the Panthers would extend the margin back to seven at 13-6 on a Cameron Solomon jumper. It was still a seven-point game two minutes later but Delaware used an 11-0 run, highlighted with three-pointers by Saddler, Rogers and Anderson, to take a 21-18 lead at the 7:50 mark.
UD was still up 27-23 following a Threatt layup but the Panthers countered with eight consecutive points to go back in front on an Atkins three-pointer. The Blue Hens closed within three on a pair of Threatt free throws, before Atkins hit a long jumper at the buzzer to give Georgia State a 42-37 lead at the half.
Delaware is back at home on Wednesday when the Blue Hens host Towson at the Bob Carpenter Center at 7 p.m.
Delaware (8-8, 3-0 CAA)
Brinkley, 3-5 6-8 12, Hagins, 4-7 3-5 11, Threatt, 4-11 10-12 18, Saddler, 10-14 6-8 29, Anderson, 3-8 0-2 8, Rogers, 2-5 0-0 5, Baptiste, 1-2 1-2 3, Totals, 27-52 26-37 86.
Georgia State (6-11, 1-3 CAA)
Atkins, 7-17 2-3 20, Vincent, 1-4 0-0 2, White, 6-12 6-6 18, Hunter, 5-10 4-4 15, Richardson, 5-7 0-0 13, Green, 0-0 2-2 2, Shaw, 1-1 0-0 3, Travers, 0-2 0-0 0, Solomon, 1-4 6-8 8, Shipes, 0-1 0-0 0, Crider, 1-1 0-0 2, Burguillos, 0-0 0-0 0, Totals, 27-59 20-23 83.
Halftime: Georgia State 42, Delaware 37. Three-Point Field Goals: UD – 6-16 (Saddler, 3-5, Anderson, 2-6, Rogers, 1-4, Threatt, 0-1); GSU – 9-20 (Atkins, 4-9, Richardson, 3-5, Shaw, 1-1, Hunter, 1-3, White, 0-1, Travers, 0-1); Rebounds: UD – 34 (Hagins, 7); GSU – 31 (Hunter, 8); Assists: UD - 12 (Hagins, 4); GSU -13 (White, 6); Fouls: UD - 20, GSU - 22. Attendance: 1,075.