In their final game before the annual NBA All-Star weekend, the Delaware Blue Coats were able to regain their momentum with a victory over the Windy City Bulls this Thursday, Feb. 17, by a score of 115-96.
This was a much-needed victory for Delaware, as they dropped a close 109-104 game to the Raptors 905 in their previous outing on Feb. 12.
While they were able to take down the Bulls in convincing fashion, some rust did linger from Saturday-night’s matchup. In the first half, the Blue Coats turned the ball over 14 times and gave up one-fourth of the Bulls’ points off of turnovers.
“We played a little sloppy [in the first half],” Blue Coats forward Braxton Key said. “We had some uncharacteristic turnovers, and I had a couple myself. We just had to lock in a little more coming out of half and focus on the little things.”
It appeared as if the halftime adjustments were successful for the Blue Coats, as they had six fewer turnovers and put up 27 more points in the second half compared to their first.
Key himself was influential in propelling his team out of the halftime break, as he exploded for 15 points in the third quarter and finished with 28 for the day. He also registered eight rebounds, three blocked shots and a career-high five steals.
“I knew I had to be a little more aggressive [on defense],” Key said. “We went over film and saw some ways that I could be more aggressive. I just try to protect my guys and make a play whenever I can. We rely on our defense and we did a good job tonight, which is why we were able to break it open in the third quarter.”
Collectively, the Blue Coats posted 36 points in the third quarter and forced seven turnovers. Guard Myles Powell took over on offense alongside of Key, as ten of his 20 points came in the third quarter alone.
Delaware also received eight fourth-quarter points from guard Jared Brownridge, who put up 16 on the night and helped his team secure their victory down the road.
Despite the win, the Blue Coats were not at full strength against the Bulls. Guard Jaden Springer, a consistent starter for Delaware this season, was placed on a minutes restriction due to an injury that only allowed him to play four minutes.
With Springer limited and fellow guard Haywood Highsmith called up to the NBA on a ten-day contract with the Miami Heat, Blue Coats Head Coach Coby Karl had to ask some of his bench players to step in for more minutes than they were used to.
One of those players was guard Barra Njie, who came off of the bench for a productive 11 minutes. In his time on the court, Njie put up four points, three rebounds and three assists. He also added one steal and blocked shot to his nightly totals.
“With this team, every game it could be someone else stepping up. Everyone is pushing each other and everyone on the bench has energy,” Njie said. “I was having fun, man. That’s all I can say.”
The Blue Coats will have one week off thanks to the All-Star break ahead of their next matchup, which will be a home game against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Thursday, Feb. 24.
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