NEWARK, DE – The Delaware 87ers (24-21) used a dominant first half to take down the Reno Bighorns (17-28) in a wire-to-wire victory at the Bob Carpenter Center on Education Day. The Sevens are now 2.5 games back of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Smiths, Russ and Roscoe, led the way for the team with 24 and 23 points. The two even connected for a transition alley-oop, where Russ threw the ball off the glass and Roscoe hammered it home. Carlos Lopez proved crucial off the bench, pouring in 15 points on 7-10 shooting and adding 12 rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes of work.
“I would say it’s passing (is his greatest strength),” Head Coach Eugene Burroughs said. “He’s a really good passer. He has a very high IQ for the game. He plays and sees things like a guard, you know, from a guy making a cut to the rim to just the right basketball play. He does a great job for us and he’s a great screener, also.”
The 87ers jumped out to an early lead and barely looked back. The team held a 25-10 lead midway through the first quarter and, though Reno cut the deficit to three, Delaware maintained its advantage.
“I was actually impressed with the way we came out and started the game,” Burroughs said. “The ball moved, we got to the basket, I thought we had some great defense stops. With our new roster changes, I think today is the most comfortable I’ve felt with the guys on the floor and where they should be and I think they felt the same way, so you have a little more synergy with that.”
Delaware scored 65 points in the first half and took a 14-point lead into the locker room. Though Reno kept things interesting throughout the second half, the Sevens came up with timely buckets and never let the Bighorns take the lead.
“When you have guys that can make shots, it makes the game easy,” Burroughs said. “But, on the flip side of those situations where the game’s close and you miss those shots, it’s a different complexity to the game. But Roscoe made a three, I think Aaron Harrison made a big three for us and we needed those buckets.”
The game also featured the debut of Tiago Splitter, who was recently sent down from the Sixers. Splitter, who came over from the Hawks as part of the Ersan Ilyasova trade, had five points and three rebounds in 14 minutes as a starter.
“I thought he was fine,” Burroughs said. “It’s his first time playing in, I think, over a year. The first game he’s played so it’s always tough when you haven’t played in awhile to try and get in a rhythm and get back in the flow. But, I thought he did some great things, set some great screens, had a some great verticality in the lane defensively and had some really good passes. Which, you could tell, a guy like that knows how to play basketball.”
Delaware has five games remaining, the next four at home. The next tilt comes against the Long Island Nets on Friday, March 24 at 7 p.m. The Sevens then play the Windy City Bulls at home on Saturday night.
“I think our attitude is perfect,” Burroughs said. “It’s going to be a fun stretch the rest of the way.”