Delaware Blue Coats pick up the win in their first game back from the All-Star break

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Darius Bazley shoots a free throw. Bazley recorded 22 points and 11 rebounds in the win against the Gold. - Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. - Photo via Payton Tuorto

After an eight-day layoff due to the All-Star break, the Delaware Blue Coats (13-6) picked up where they left off in the first half, with a 126-115 victory over the Grand Rapids Gold (9-11) on Thursday, Feb. 22. 

“Just getting back into the flow of things, I feel like we still got that ball rolling,” Darius Bazley said. “Before the break, I thought we had some really good games… and to come back from break, sometimes, you feel like you might have lost it, feel like you’re trying to find it again. So for us to be able to pick up where we left off is good.”

Delaware looked like a well-rested team, as they jumped out to a 36-21 lead after the first quarter and dominated in all aspects of the game. They were all over the passing lines, leading to the Gold’s seven first-quarter turnovers, which resulted in six fastbreak points for the Coats. In addition, Delaware was able to bully Grand Rapids in the paint, leading to seven free-throw attempts and 14 points in the paint.

“No basketball, no practice, no lifting, it [the break] helps but it doesn’t,” Bazley said. “You come back and you play again and your body’s super sore again…but it definitely gave us some fresh legs.”

Things seemed to be trending towards a Blue Coats blowout victory, but the Gold quickly shot themselves back into the game. After hitting on just three of nine from beyond the arc in the first quarter, the Gold shot 51.7 percent (15-29) the rest of the way to erase an 18-point deficit and even held onto a two-point lead in the later stages of the fourth quarter. 

However, with a victory hanging in the balance and the Blue Coats up two, Jarron Cumberland took over for Delaware, recording five of his season-high 19 points and three of his season-high seven steals in the final five minutes of the game.

“Any time you can get a steal, you take away a shot attempt for them and hopefully it’s going to be a shot attempt for you,” Head Coach Mike Longabardi said. “He’s got a great knack and he played very, very well today.”

The Blue Coats were bolstered by the returns of two-way players Terquavion Smith and Kenneth Lofton Jr., who had been spending time with the Philadelphia 76ers. Smith’s offensive impact was felt immediately, as he entered the half with a team-high 20 points, and finished with a game-high 33 points, while Lofton recorded 22 points, nine rebounds, and six assists on a minutes restriction.

“It was great to see them, they looked good, maybe a little rusty but that’s to be expected,” Longabardi said. “We didn’t get to have them in practice, so there’s going to be an adjustment period and I think it showed some tonight for sure.”

While most of the team had the All-Star break off, Bazley’s break was anything but that, as the 23-year-old G-League All-Star traveled to Indiana to participate in the G-League Next Up game, where he finished with seven points, five rebounds, three steals, and one assist. 

“That was cool,” Bazley said. “I think no matter what level you’re at, to be noticed or recognized as one of the best in whatever it is that you’re doing is always nice, so that was cool.”

The day after, the 76ers offered Bazley a 10-day contract, joining Lofton, Smith, Ricky Council IV, and Javonte Smart as guys to play for both the 76ers and Blue Coats this season. After recording 22 points and 11 rebounds in the win against the Gold, Bazley and the rest of the two-way guys went to Philly for their game against the Knicks, where he logged one minute on the court to wrap up a hectic week.

“We played in Long Island and then I flew home,” Bazley said. “I drove to Indiana, then I drove back home, then I flew here.”

Bazley and the other two-way guys will have to head back down to Delaware for the second leg of their back-to-back against the Gold, which takes place tomorrow night at 7 p.m.

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