2022 Colonial Athletic Association championship game: Delaware uses strong defense to hold off UNC Wilmington for NCAA Tournament berth
Photo: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Delaware Blue Hens capped a remarkable Colonial Athletic Association tournament with a 59-55 victory over UNC Wilmington in the championship game.

Delaware (22-12), seeded fifth, got 18 points from Jyare Davis, who was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Andrew Carr posted a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Jaylen Sims led the second-seeded Seahawks with 18 points. Mike Okauru was the only other player in double figures with 10. UNC Wilmington falls to 23-9 on the year.

The Blue Hens became the first fifth seed in CAA Tournament history to win it after upsets of defending champion Drexel in the quarterfinals and top seed Towson in the semifinals.

Story of the game

UNC Wilmington got off to a strong start behind Sims, who scored five quick points as the Seahawks grabbed an 8-3 edge out of the gate. He picked up his second foul with 10:28 left in the first half and didn't return.

Delaware picked up its first lead of the game, 19-17 when Ryan Allen capped a 6-0 run with a layup on the left side with 9:32 remaining in the first half.
The second seed regained control by answering with a six-point spurt. Okauru scored the first two buckets in the rally and a jumper by Jaylen Fornes from the free-throw line with 6:46 left pushed the lead back to 23-19.
The Seahawks increased their advantage 30-24 on a triple on the left wing by reserve guard Jahmari Harvey with 3:31 to go, but Delaware scored six of the final 10 points of the half to stay close.

It was a nip-and-tuck game the rest of the way as UNC Wilmington extended the lead to seven early in the second half, but Jameer Nelson Jr. converted a layup before two Davis jumpers pulled Delaware within 39-38 with 16 minutes remaining.

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Anderson followed his own miss to give the Blue Hens their first lead of the half at 44-43 at the 8:44 mark, while a driving layup by Allen again put Delaware up 49-47 with seven and a half minutes to play.

Sims scored with 2:27 remaining to give UNC Wilmington a 55-53 lead, but Davis hit a free throw and added a bucket over James Baker Jr. with a minute to help the Blue Hens go back in front 56-55.

Carr sank a free throw with 14 seconds on the clock to increase the score to 57-55 and Ebby Asamoah iced the game with a pair of free throws with 11 seconds left.

"I can't say enough about our team and our guys belief in each other and in our program", said head coach Martin Ingelsby. "We dug in and guarded against a really good team.

"To hold three teams in a row in the 50s says a lot about our defensive effort. Give credit to our guys. They were ready to compete. We had to go through the four, one and two seeds, so we earned this title.

"It says a lot about our team to get it done on consecutive days against the regular-season co-champions."