With his team buried in the Colonial Athletic Association standings after a stretch in which it lost seven of eight conference games, Hofstra coach Tom Pecora came up with a new theme for the second half of the season: "Climb to glory.''
After pulling out of the tailspin Wednesday with a 39-point victory over North Carolina Wilmington, the Pride took another step on the road to respectability Saturday afternoon.
Delaware cut a 13-point deficit to one with 5:45 to play, but Charles Jenkins and freshmen Chaz Williams and Halil Kanacevic came up big down the stretch to give the Pride (11-12, 4-7) a 77-67 win.
After Delaware (6-16, 2-9) pulled within 56-55 on Alphonso Dawson's bank shot, Jenkins looked to Pecora and got the green light. "He said, 'It's time to step it up; it's time to make plays,' '' Jenkins said.
Actually, Pecora said he wasn't that polite to Jenkins, who scored 27 points and shot 8-for-14. He was a little more emphatic with his encouragement. Said Pecora, "I want Charles to go to bed thinking, 'How do I get my shot?' ''
What shooter doesn't want to hear those words from his coach? Jenkins hit two free throws and a layup to create a little breathing room, and after two free throws by Kanacevic (16 points), Jenkins drove again for a 64-59 lead with 2:56 to play. Pecora called another play for Jenkins two possessions later, but with the shot clock winding down, the 5-9 Williams charged inside for a layup high off the glass and a 68-62 lead.
"I tried to get Charles the ball, but the play got screwed up,'' said Williams, who had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists. "I used my ability to create and made the best of the play.''
Dawson hit a corner three with 1:06 to play to cut Hofstra's lead in half, but the Blue Hens, who were led by point guard Jawan Carter's 22 points and nine rebounds, got no closer.
With Hofstra ahead by four, Delaware's Jamelle Hagins tried to give the ball to Carter, but Williams cut between them for the steal and was fouled intentionally. He made both free throws with 17.2 seconds left for a 73-67 lead, was fouled on the inbounds pass and made two more foul shots to put it out of reach.
"Coach told me to guard up,'' Williams said. "The whole game, I gave Jawan anything he wanted, and that's not the type of player Coach wants me to be. So it was like, 'Don't let him get this ball.' Making the free throws is what I practice in my backyard or when I come in the gym by myself.''