Richmond, VA – Baltimore, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Carl Baptiste put Delaware on his wide and bulky shoulders and helped the Blue Hens punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 years.
Baptiste netted a career-high 24 points, including a go-ahead layup with 12 seconds remaining, to lift Delaware to a 75-74 win over William & Mary in the Colonial Athletic Association Tounament championship game.
Devon Saddler had the ball along the left wing and found a cutting Baptiste down the middle of the lane. Baptiste, who received a brush screen from Jarvis Threatt, muscled in for the layup to cap a 7-0 Blue Hens run to end the game and send Delaware to its first NCAA Tournament since 1999.
"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 head coach Monte Ross said.
Marcus Thornton's pull-up right wing jumper at the buzzer clanked off the back of the rim.
Baptiste finished 9-of-11 from the floor and added eight rebounds for the Blue Hens (25-9), who are heading to their fifth NCAA Tournament but have never won a game in the Big Dance.
Threatt supplied 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Saddler registered 16 points and five assists in the triumph.
Thornton netted 22 points and Tim Rusthoven provided 16 points for William & Mary (20-12), which is one of five original Division I members to not make an NCAA Tournament.
After Davon Usher's 3-pointer cut the Tribe margin to 69-68, Thornton hit a jumper and Omar Prewitt nailed a triple to extend t he cushion to 74-68 with 1:21 to play.
Saddler sunk a pair of foul shots and Prewitt missed the front end of a one- and-one at the other end. Threatt then drove in for a three-point play to cut the gap to one with 51 ticks left.
Thornton's missed jumper preceded Baptiste's layup.
Earlier, the Blue Hens closed the opening half on a 6-0 spurt to head into the locker room with a 39-33 edge.
Kyle Anderson made a pair of 3-pointers in a 1:19 span, the latter which finished off an 8-2 flurry and staked Delaware to a 47-35 advantage.
A bit later, Brandon Britt's layup concluded a 10-4 Tribe swing and trimmed the deficit to 55-53 with 9:22 on the clock.
Back-to-back buckets by Rusthoven and Prewitt gave Delaware its first lead of the second half, 66-65, with 4:19 to go.
The Blue Hens shot 83.3 percent (15-of-18) from the foul line, while William & Mary was just 27.3 percent (3-of-11) from the charity stripe ... Usher pulled down 10 boards ... Delaware shot 43.5 percent (27-of-62) from the field.