Delaware Blue Coats drop out of first in the East after loss to Maine Celtics

Terquavion Smith rises for a three point shot. Smith recorded 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists off the bench in the loss to the Celtics. - Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. - Photo via Payton Tuorto

The Delaware Blue Coats took on the Maine Celtics on Monday, March 11 for the first leg of back-to-back games. The game didn’t go as they wanted it to though, falling to the Celtics by a score of 122-101.

One of the biggest problems for Delaware throughout the game was the size of Maine. The Celtics had four players over six-foot-10, while the Blue Coats had zero players over that height.

This disadvantage for the Blue Coats manifested itself in the rebounding battle. Delaware was beaten on the boards 58-36, one of the worst differentials on the glass for the Blue Coats this season. Maine’s dominant performance on the boards was led by both Drew Peterson and Kylor Kelley, who had 11 rebounds each. Kelley especially was a problem, grabbing five rebounds on the offensive end.

The team’s tallest player, Darius Bazley, was recently signed by the Utah Jazz, so head coach Mike Longabardi knows that they are going to need players to step up in his absence.

“We are gonna have to scrape and crawl,” Longabardi said. “We just lost Bazley, so we are gonna have to rebound by committee. Everyone is going to have to do their part.”

With the loss of Bazley and Kenneth Lofton Jr., the team recently acquired Rob Edwards and Quinton Rose. Edwards got his first start of the season and finished with 20 points for his new squad.

“He was good,” Longabardi said. “One thing we have to understand as a team is that we are in first place, everyone is coming for us. Next man up mentality is the big thing for us going forward.”

The leading scorer for the Blue Coats was Terquavion Smith. Smith started off the game slowly, hitting only one of his first five shots in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Smith went on to light it up from three, hitting four of his six threes in the quarter, including three possessions in a row, and on the fourth possession, assisting on a three.

“My teammates helped me get into a groove,” Smith said. “They were looking for me when I was in transition. I got good early looks, it was nice to see the ball go in early.”

Smith would go on to finish with 28 points, six rebounds, and five assists off the bench for the Blue Coats.

With the Blue Coats’ loss, they have fallen to second place in the Eastern Conference. The defending champions want the one seed and feel like they are the best team.

“It makes us stay more focused,” Smith said. “We know we are number one, they just gonna come at us hard every game, we gotta stay overly focused.”

For the Blue Coats to come out victorious on Wednesday, the team will need to be better on the boards.

“We gotta come out with more energy,” Smith said. “We gotta come out with more energy. They are way bigger than us. They got the height advantage so we gotta come out.”

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