Although the Devils' 61-42 victory over the Dartmouth Big Green was a satisfying victory before they hit the road to play Texas Tech next week, it was not one that they can hang their hats on as a big victory. Dartmouth was the inferior team by all accounts. They did not have the size nor the talent that the Devils did, yet it was just a 10 point margin at halftime that Dartmouth ended up bringing to within seven later on.
"I think it's a huge concern," senior Carrick Felix said of letting teams hang around. "We always want to be ready... Everyday is going to be a constant grind. Every game is going to be a battle. I just think we need to be aware that we can't start off slow. We can't let another team hit us first."
"Teams like to come in here and they try to slow us down. They don't really want to come in and they really have a lot of confidence as far as running with us. They try to slow us down and try to throw different defenses at us," freshman Jahii Carson said. "I think that we just have to keep focusing and come in, and like Carrick said, punch them in the face first."
Coach Herb Sendek mirrored his players' sentiments.
"If we shoot the ball better at any number of intersections during the game, it has a completely different feel. I don't care who you're playing. If you add up our last two games from three, 5-29, and what we have shot at the free throw line, you better be really good on defense. Really good on defense. And you better be converting a high percentage on your two-point shots."
The Devils simply could not find their shooting stroke all game long. They were forced to rely on their defense to shut the Big Green down, as they went just 26-57 from the field, including 2-14 from beyond the arc. Foul shooting was an issue again as well, as the Devils shot 7-13 from the charity stripe.
"I think we have some pretty good shooters that, for whatever reason, haven't shot their best," Sendek said.
It was the play of Carrick Felix that really gave the Devils a boost. His energy and versatility helped them to finally find some separation from Dartmouth. In the end, Felix finished with a career-high in rebounds with 14 and a career-high in blocks with 5. He also recorded 13 points, 2 assists and 4 steals.
Freshman guard Jahii Carson also had a nice game, scoring 18 points, dishing out 6 assists and raking in 4 steals of his own.
The Devils are now preparing to take on Texas Tech next Saturday on the road. They will return home in two weeks to host the Coppin State Eagles.