They say all good things must eventually come to an end and for the University of Delaware men's basketball program that cliché rang true on Monday night as the Hens fell to Towson, 78-63. The loss brought Delaware's 13-game winning streak to a crashing halt and ended Delaware's 11-0 start in CAA play.

That UD would lose this game was not necessarily a surprise. Delaware was facing a hostile atmosphere and a Towson team that entered the season as a consensus favorite to capture the CAA crown. There was no shame in falling on Monday night. The problem for the Hens however, was how they fell.

Delaware struggled to string together stops all night long on the defensive end. Towson was able to penetrate consistently and finished near the rim with relative ease. The Hens' rotation on that end of the floor looked a step slow, and consequently UD was stuck out of position and got abused on the offensive glass. The Tigers out-rebounded Delaware 50-38 on the night and pulled down 21 offensive boards. 

Meanwhile, when the Hens had the ball they simply could not buy an easy look. UD's perimeter game got pushed too far from the basket, taking almost all of their three-point jumpers from well behind the arc. Not surprisingly, Delaware misfired on 16 of their 20 outside looks as a result. When UD did  manage to get the ball near the rim there was always a Towson defender in help position to alter the finish attempt.  Add it all up and Delaware endured a miserable night offensively, shooting a collective 32 percent from the field.

Despite all of the struggles it is important not to overreact to this loss.  Again, it came on the road against an excellent team. The odds of Delaware playing that poorly again, particularly on the offensive end, are long to say the least.  UD must not let its confidence be shaken by this result. Part of what has made this team special has been the swagger with which it has performed, particularly over the course of the long winning streak.
Yet Monte Ross and his team know they have areas where they must improve before the CAA Tournament.  Towson is a significant impediment standing in the Hens' way of getting where they want to go.  Priority one has to be to figure out how to contain conference player of the year candidate Jerrelle Benimon, who torched the Hens for 25 points, 18 rebounds and five assists on Monday.  If Benimon puts up similar numbers against UD in the postseason, Ross' team will be headed to the NIT rather than the Big Dance. 

This week will be a difficult balancing act for Ross and his coaching staff. They must not focus on the negatives too dramatically, while still finding a way to correct the mistakes that cost Delaware a chance at victory

All season long Ross has found a way to push the right buttons with his team. This may in fact end up being the greatest challenge of his coaching career. Sometimes losses like the one suffered by Delaware on Monday can be good for a team. In many cases it wakes them up and proves they are not invincible.

Sometimes it can cause a snowball effect the opposite way as well.

The good news for Ross and the Hens is the fact that the setback came with 40 percent of UD's original starting lineup still absent due to suspension.  When Delaware and Towson square off in the much anticipated rubber match (and these two teams will face each other in the conference final, they are simply that much better than everyone else in the league) Jarvis Threatt and Marvin King-Davis will be back at UD's disposal. 
Will that be enough to make the difference?  Delaware sure hopes so.  I certainly think so, but I'd be lying if I said I was as certain as I was coming into Monday night. 

There is one thing I am positive of though: The CAA Tournament is going to be a ton of fun to watch.