Delaware Blue Coats plagued by turnovers, drop to fourth in the East after loss to Long Island Nets

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Terquavion Smith scans the defense. Smith recorded a team-high seven assists in the loss on Sunday. - Friday, Feb. 23, 2024. - Photo via Payton Tuorto

With just three games left in the regular season and a log jam at the top of the Eastern Conference standings, the Delaware Blue Coats (19-13) dropped a pivotal game to the Long Island Nets (18-14) on Sunday, March 24, losing 119-101. 

The loss knocks Delaware out of a three-way tie for the second seed and drops them into fourth, jeopardizing their chance at having home-court advantage in the playoffs with Long Island just one game behind them in fifth. 

“Obviously, we want home-court advantage,” head coach Mike Longabardi said. “That lessens our travel and we can stay fresh.” 

The Blue Coats didn’t play like a team that was fighting for home-court advantage in the first quarter. They struggled to get stops on the defensive end, as the Nets shot 77.3 percent from the field, and the Coats found themselves down 40-26 at the quarter’s end as a result.

It could have been a lot worse for them, but they found some life late in the quarter and went on a 15-2 run to trim the deficit from 23 to 14. From this point on, the Blue Coats showcased the championship-caliber fight that they’ve displayed all season, coming all the way back to take a 68-67 lead with 7:52 left in the third quarter, after Jarron Cumberland hit a floater for two of his 14 points.

Turnovers would kill any chance that the Blue Coats had of securing the comeback win though, as seven of their 17 turnovers came after Cumberland’s go-ahead floater. It was just the second time the Blue Coats have turned the ball over 15 or more times since their 111-96 win on March 5.

“Today we took a step back, but we haven’t had one of those games in a while, so let’s just hope it’s an aberration and now we can continue to go forward and get better,” Longabardi said. 

Now with the playoffs quickly approaching and the team 3-7 in their last 10, the veterans from last year’s championship squad have one message.

“Trying not to dig ourselves into a hole during the games,” Terquavion Smith said. “They came out hot and we were playing from behind the whole game, so [they say] stuff like that. Late in the season, it’s harder to come back from 20-point games. Even though it’s possible, it’s just harder at the end of the season.”

With two games left before the postseason, Longabardi views these games as a chance to get ready for what lies ahead. 

“The good thing about these next two games is that these teams are in the playoffs or fighting for the playoffs, so that’ll prepare us for the playoffs,” Longabardi said.

The Blue Coats quest for a top-two seed and home court will continue on Wednesday, March 27 when the Capital City Go-Go (18-14) visit Chase Fieldhouse for an 11 a.m. game. 

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