Mutts, Blue Hens dominate Bridgewater in opener, win Sunshine Slam Tournament to reach 4-0

Sarah Boekholder/THE

Justyn Mutts looks to have a strong first year as a member of the Blue Hens.

Staff Reporter

The men’s basketball team opened up their 2019 basketball season against Division III opponent Bridgewater College. From the tip, the game was dominated by the Blue Hens.

The Delaware defense kept the Bridgewater offense in check for most of the game. Bridgewater finished the game shooting 32% from the field and just under 35% from the three-point line. Delaware had a size advantage coming into the game and used it to its advantage, forcing Bridgewater to shoot from mainly behind the three-point line throughout.

By the end of the night, the Delaware offense shot 58.2% from the field and just under 45% from three. Delaware’s offense ran through junior guard Ryan Allen and redshirt sophomore Justyn Mutts. Allen finished with 21 points, three assists and four rebounds. Allen also shot 6-9 from the three-point line. Mutts led the Blue Hens in scoring and finished with a double-double, scoring 23 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

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Junior guard Ryan Allen poured in 21 points and made six three-pointers in the win over Bridgewater.

Mutts, a transfer from High Point University, sat out all of last season due to his transfer in the summer of 2018.

After the game, Mutts reflected on what it was like to finally get back on a basketball court in the blue and gold.

“It was amazing to be able to step on the court with my guys,” Mutts said. “These are all my brothers, so to finally be able to play the game we all love next to each other, you just can’t put it into words.”

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Justyn Mutts had 23 points and 13 rebounds in his Blue Hens debut.

In his time at High Point, Mutts played a pivotal defensive role and led the team in blocks with 32 and second on the team in steals with 30. As Mutts enters the 2019 season, his teammates not only see him as a big piece on defense, but they also see him as a growing offensive presence.

“Justyn is great,” junior guard Kevin Anderson said. “He’s a work horse. He’s in the gym all the time working on his game. Over the summer [Mutts] worked hard to get a better shot. He’s been doing stuff with his ball handling so he’ll be good for us.”

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Guard Kevin Anderson helped run the Delaware offense, finishing with nine assists.

Head Coach Martin Ingelsby also reflected on Mutts’ play style and energy he brings to the team.

“He gives us an edge,” Ingelsby said. “He’s a fiery guy. He’s an intense guy. He can impact the game in so many ways in rebounding, blocking shots. He lets us be really versatile on the defensive end with his ability to guard the basketball.”

The production from Mutts and his teammates are what the Blue Hens need going forward as their games get tougher with conference opponents and nationally known teams such as Villanova. Coach Ingelsby looked at how the team can build on such a dominant performance, but move ahead and focus on a tough stretch of games ahead.

“It’s always good to get to 1-0. I told [the team] after the game we are going to enjoy this tonight, but the last time we went to a warm weather place it was vacation, like [now], this is a business trip,” Ingelsby said. “It starts tomorrow when we come in at noon.”

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Senior forward Jacob Cushing going up for a one-handed dunk versus Bridgewater.

The Blue Hens will not be in Delaware for some time with a long stretch of road games including three in Florida against Oakland, Southern Illinois and the University of Texas at San Antonio in the Sunshine Slam basketball tournament.

In the Sunshine Slam tournament the Blue Hens stayed perfect, posting a record of 3-0 including wins against Oakland and Southern Illinois by three points or less. They now stand at 4-0, the only Division I team to hold that honor.

Guard Nate Darling had himself a weekend in the blue and gold going for 22 points, 18 points and 37 points respectively, including shooting 80% from behind the three-point line, making eight of 10 from the great beyond. He currently leads all of Division I with 17 made three-pointers. He was named the Sunshine Slam MVP. Junior guard Kevin Anderson also led the Blue Hens, including a 32 point outburst that went along with Darling’s 37 points. This was the first time in program history that two players scored 30 or more points in the same game. Anderson was named to the All-Tournament Team.

Delaware’s next home game will be on Nov. 27, the day before Thanksgiving, as the Blue Hens host Stony Brook.

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