NEWARK, Del. -- Apparently, Delaware coach David Henderson knew exactly what it would take to hand the Penn men's basketball team its 10th loss of the season. "Coach came in and said playing good defense was the key to us winning," Delaware forward Maurice Sessoms said. "When we play good defense, I don't think anyone can beat us." Delaware's defense turned in a stellar performance both in the paint and at the perimeter in the Blue Hens' 76-66 victory last night. The Blue Hens' defense has been strong all season, as it held opponents to an average of 67.9 points per game before entering yesterday's contest. Delaware also averaged 4.6 blocks and 7.7 steals per contest. Last night against the Quakers, the Blue Hens bested all those numbers by recording nine blocks and nine steals, while limiting the Penn offense to a mere 66 points. The Blue Hens are the only team in the America East Conference that has not allowed an opponent to shoot better than 50 percent from the floor this season. They continued this trend against the Quakers, limiting Penn to a .397 shooting percentage. The Delaware defense did a particularly good job keeping Penn's three-point shooting in check. The Quakers, who were shooting 37.4 percent from behind the arc coming into the game, sunk just six of 22 attempts from downtown. Penn's three-point shooting attack is led by guard Lamar Plummer, who is successful a whopping 45.8 percent of the time from three-point range. Delaware held him to 1-for-5 from three-point land, and Plummer finished the game with only six points. "Billy [Wells is] our point man on defense, and he didn't give Plummer any open looks," Henderson said. "That's key because that kid can really shoot the basketball. He's automatic when he's open." Wells, along with forward Ajmal Basit, led the Blue Hens with three blocked shots. Wells also contributed defensively with two steals. "I thought they did a really good job pressuring our perimeter guys," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "They stole the ball twice from our point guards, which hasn't happened all year long." The first of those steals came halfway through the first half with the Quakers trailing 20-15. Delaware guard Austen Rowland swiped the ball from Penn freshman guard Charlie Copp. As Rowland headed back down the court with the ball, Copp grabbed his arm and was called for an intentional foul, giving the Blue Hens two free throw shots and possession. Penn's starting point guard David Klatsky was also victimized by Delaware's tenacious defense at the top of the key. The Blue Hens held a 62-44 advantage when Wells pickpocketed Klatsky midway through the second half. Wells cruised down the court for an uncontested layup to give Delaware its biggest lead of the entire contest. Delaware's defense did an equally efficient job down low. Penn's starting frontcourt of Ugonna Onyekwe, Koko Archibong and Geoff Owens scored a combined 24 points -- 14 points below their season average. "Our big guys inside were not allowing those guys to get good position," Henderson said. "We really wanted to double down with [our] perimeter players whenever they put the ball on the floor and take away their game in the paint." Delaware was also able to limit Onyekwe's playing time by getting him into foul trouble. Onyekwe played in only 23 of the game's 40 minutes. In part, Onyekwe's foul trouble came thanks to the Delaware defense that took a charge, giving Onyekwe his second foul of the contest.Comments powered by Disqus
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