The Tornoe Spin: Forget the Sixers, watch the Blue Hens

Rob Tornoe checks in with his thoughts on the Blue Hens’ triumphant victory over William and Mary.

Seeking their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 15 years, the Delaware Blue Hens seemed to let the game slip away in the closing minutes of the second half, as a three-pointer by Tribe guard Omar Prewitt gave William and Mary a six-point lead with 80 seconds left.

What followed was perhaps the most thrilling minute of basketball I’ve witnessed all year (keep in mind, I’ve been stuck watching the Sixers all season).

The Blue Hens went on a 7-0 run over the final 1:10 of regulation, taking the lead in the most unlikely way, with 12 seconds on the clock and a go-ahead layup by big man Carl Baptiste.

They needed a defensive stop, and got it: Tribe guard Marcus Thornton’s last-second jump shot ricocheted off the rim as time expired, preserving the 75-74 win, securing the school’s first Colonial Athletic Association title and sending them to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.

UD students stormed the court of the Baltimore Arena after the thrilling victory, mobbing players and celebrating with coaches as the funk of seven straight losing seasons was instantly washed away.

“I can’t say enough about this group, and the way they just stick with it,” said UD head coach Monté Ross. “To be down six late and just keep playing, I couldn’t be prouder of their resiliency. I love these guys, they are tremendous. To cap it off like this is really special.”

Blue Hens guard Jarvis Threatt, who ended the game with 18 points and seven rebounds, was named the tournament’s most valuable player. In three games, the junior amassed 59 points, nabbed 21 rebounds and had 14 assists, a nice turnaround after being suspended by the team for a month after violating athletic department policies.

This will be the Blue Hens fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament. The four previous attempts – in 1992, 1993, 1998 and 1999 – all ended with first game eliminations. Delaware will find out where they’re going and their first opponent on Sunday at 6 p.m., when the NCAA Tournament field is announced on CBS. The Blue Hens have been consistently listed as a 13th seed.

Meanwhile, the Sixers take on the Sacramento Kings in Philly on Wednesday night, after letting a close game against the Knicks Monday night end in double-digit defeat.

I think I’ll just watch a replay of the Blue Hens victory instead. Thrilling always trumps tanking.

Rob Tornoe is a cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobTornoe.

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