NEW YORK — The Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens went on a late surge and almost upset the Kansas State Wildcats on Wednesday night, but lost 66-63 in the NIT Season Tip-Off Semifinal at Madison Square Garden.
Delaware senior forward Jamelle Hagins had a double-double by halftime, and the Blue Hens set the pace early on, jumping out to a 7-4 lead.
Kansas State (5-0, 4-0 home) answered with an 8-0 run to go up 12-7 at the 10:53 mark. The Wildcats maintained the lead for the rest of the first half, and led 27-25 at the break.
Junior guard Devon Saddler came off the bench to propel the Blue Hens in the second half. Saddler finished the game with 32 points. Hagins finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.
The Wildcats went on a 14-6 run in the second half to take a 56-45 lead with 7:49 left to play. The Blue Hens (2-2, 1-1 away) responded with a 10-2 run, and cut the deficit to 58-55 on a three-pointer by Saddler with 3:33 left.
Saddler hit another three to narrow the gap to 60-58 with 1:27 left, but sophomore forward Nino Williams hit a jumper to put K-State up for good. Junior guard Will Spradling hit four free throws down the stretch to put the game on ice for the Cats.
Both Spradling and sophomore forward Thomas Gipson each had 12 points. Sophomore forward Angel Rodriguez finished with 12 points and six assists. K-State outrebounded Delaware 39-31.
K-State will take on the winner between Pittsburgh and No. 4 Michigan on Thanksgiving night at Madison Square Garden.