STIFLING DEFENSE POWERS SEVENS OVER FORT WAYNE
By Varun Raghupathi, 24/Sevens Insider
NEWARK, DE – The Delaware 87ers (17-16) picked up a hard-fought, much-needed win over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (19-11) by the final score of 100-92. The win was Delaware’s first over the Mad Ants this season and featured 11 steals from the 87ers, as well as some of the best defense the Sevens have played all year long.
“I thought we had a great effort,” Head Coach Eugene Burroughs said. “We talked about, you know, as a team we have to defend, because we’ll always score. But, can we get stops? And when we don’t get stops, we struggle, and today’s game I thought we did a great job defensively. We had some scrappy plays, which was great for us because a lot of times we are on the losing end of those scrappy plays and tonight we weren’t.”
This one was tight throughout, with the two squads tied at 22-22 after one, Fort Wayne ahead by five at halftime and Delaware leading by one heading into the fourth quarter. The Sevens held the Mad Ants to just 17 points in the final frame and, coupled with a solid 24 points of their own in the final 12 minutes, eked out a crucial eight-point victory.
“I think the group on the floor did a great job just sharing the basketball,” Burroughs said. “I don’t think one guy tried to take over the game and the ball moved, and when the ball moves they’re good enough players to make basketball plays, and we made shots during that time period.”
The leading scorer for Delaware in this one was relative newcomer Aaron Harrison. The Kentucky product poured in 19 points in 31 minutes off the bench. Harrison has now scored at least 10 points in three of his four outings with the Sevens.
“I thought he felt very comfortable today,” Burroughs said. “Aaron has only played a few games with us. We’ve had limited practices, so he’s kind of learning on the fly, and today I felt he felt a little more comfortable, you know, in the offensive schemes and defensively.”
Delaware couldn’t have asked for a performance like this at a better time. The Sevens came into the tilt having lost six of their past seven games, while red-hot Fort Wayne had won four of their previous five before Saturday night.
Three 87ers aside from Harrison finished in double figures, with Washington Wizards assignee Danuel House ending with 12 and Russ Smith and Shawn Long notching 16 points apiece. Fort Wayne had five players above 10 points, led by Stephan Hicks and his game-high 22 points.
The Sevens are back home on Valentine’s Day to take on the Maine Red Claws at 7 p.m. ET at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del. It is the fourth game in a five-contest home stand. Delaware is 1-2 against Maine this year.