Last Friday night, the Delaware Blue Coats took on the Westchester Knicks at home for the second time in a week. Despite the game coming down to the wire in the final seconds of play, the Coats were still able to pull out the 93-91 victory over the Knicks.
Both teams came into the game short-handed as injuries, illnesses and NBA transactions plagued both teams. The Knicks were without four players for the night, including Tyler Hall, their point guard who averages 14.6 points per game (ppg). Meanwhile, the Blue Coats missed Shamorie Ponds due to Covid-19, Grant Riller due to injury, and Jaden Springer after being recalled by the 76ers.
Ahead of the game, the Blue Coats Head Coach Coby Karl decided to start both the recently acquired Charles Bassey and the young Barra Njie. However, Karl makes it a priority to keep his players as prepared as possible for circumstances like this.
“During practice, we always mix up the lineups and play different positions,” Blue Coats’ Charlie Brown Jr. said. “Coach does a really good job of keeping us versatile in certain ways, so when it came around, we were all comfortable with it.”
Despite practicing with these different lineups, the Blue Coats still had a slow start on Friday night. The team was outshot by Westchester in the first half, only shooting 34% from the field compared to the Knicks’ 49%.
The Blue Coats swung the ball around the arc and were able to take nineteen three-point attempts, but could only knock down five of them. At halftime, the Blue Coats found themselves down 11 points by a score of 53-42.
“After seeing what we had in that first half, I just wanted to simplify the game,” Coach Karl said. “[The Knicks] took away our aggression with their defensive pressure on our ball handlers, so I just wanted to simplify the game and protect our paint to make them beat us from outside.”
After the half, the Blue Coats were able to hold Westchester to only two points in the paint during the third quarter. Delaware scored 12 down low in a third-quarter effort where their overall offense improved.
The team was able to knock down five threes in the third quarter, tying their first half’s total. One three came at the very end of the quarter, as Haywood Highsmith scored a huge, half-court buzzer-beater that got the crowd on their feet and gave his team a four-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
“I don’t know how that shot went in to be honest,” Highsmith said. “I thought I got fouled too, but it was an amazing shot and I think that definitely propelled us in the fourth quarter to start turning this game up and turning this lead up.”
While Delaware maintained a lead throughout the entire fourth quarter, Westchester was able to keep it close until the final buzzer.
With 1:27 left in the game and only up by two points, the Blue Coats received a huge bucket from Charles Bassey with a massive slam dunk that almost saw his head touch the rim.
The Knicks would hit one more shot to bring the game within two, but could not connect on their final opportunity to tie the game. The last gasp of hope to tie the game came from Jericho Sims’ hook shot attempt that missed the rim completely as time expired.
The Blue Coats were able to rejoice in their victory in front of an electric crowd that had over eight hundred fans. Members of the 76ers community were also able to witness the win, as star player Andre Drummond, 76ers President Daryl Morey, and reporter Lauren Rosen were all in attendance.
Delaware now sits with a league-best record, 11-1, which they carried with them into the G League Showcase Cup taking place Dec. 19-22.
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