After leading for much of the first three quarters, the Delaware Blue Coats (2-3) let victory slip right through their hands on Wednesday, Nov. 22, losing 106-101 against the College Park Skyhawks (4-1).
“I thought we had a good first half, not a good end of the third quarter, and the fourth quarter could have went either way,” head coach Mike Longabardi said.
After opening the game on an 11-0 run, the Blue Coats took a 55-48 lead at halftime. However, momentum would soon swing. With 4:29 remaining in the third and the Blue Coats up 76-65, the Skyhawks would go on a 16-2 run to end the quarter and give them their first lead of the night.
From there, the two teams were on a see-saw for a large majority of the fourth, with the Blue Coats clinging onto a 101-98 lead with 3:20 to go. But just like the end of the third, the Skyhawks would fight back, and held onto a 104-101 lead with just 7.5 seconds remaining.
After receiving the inbound pass from Melvin Frazier, Javonte Smart had a chance to be the hero and tie the game with a last-second three-point attempt but missed it short, ultimately sealing the Skyhawks’ 106-101 victory.
“I thought they played more aggressive than we did in the fourth quarter,” Longabardi said. “Actually, from the end of the third into the fourth, they were the more aggressive team.”
Throughout the night, the Blue Coats struggled when David Duke Jr. was off the court, as his plus-minus of 17 was the second-highest in the game. His offensive production may have been the thing the team missed the most, as he finished the game with 20 points. In addition, during the near 14 minutes he spent on the bench, the Coats were outscored 39-18.
“He’s been terrific,” Longabardi said. “I thought he got a little tired tonight, but I thought each day that he’s been back from injury he’s gotten better and better, and we need that for sure.”
One positive for the Blue Coats was Ricky Council IV, as the 6’6′ guard recorded a season-high 31 points, with 13 of them coming in the fourth quarter.
“I just came out with a lot of energy,” Council said. “Had a lot of energy in the first [half] and wanted to bring it out in the second and win a game that was really important, because they’re at the top of our league, so I really wanted to win so I did everything I needed to do but just came up short.”
In addition to the new season-high in points, Council set a new season-high in both field goals made and attempts, shooting an efficient 13 of 21.
“It feels good [to score 31], and I was efficient too,” Council said. “That’s what I’m aiming for, to do everything I can to help the team win and be efficient in the process. I’m proud of myself personally, but definitely disappointed because we wanted to win.”
This now marks Council’s third straight game with over 20 points, who has been improving his game throughout the early portion of the season.
“Ricky’s been really good,” Longabardi said. “He’s been putting a lot of time in. He’s a diligent worker, he was super aggressive tonight and took what the defense gave him and he was a positive sign for us, obviously.”
The two teams will square off again at Chase Fieldhouse on Saturday, Nov. 25. Until then, the Blue Coats will be searching for ways to slow down Skyhawks forward Chris Silva, who finished tied with Seth Lundy for the team lead in points with 26 and recorded nine rebounds.
“Chris Silva was really, really, good,” Longabardi said. “He’s so physical and so strong, I thought we did a good job on him but he’s one of the more efficient and elite players in our league, so we gotta do it collectively.”