Blue Hens Advance to Fourth Straight CAA Championship Game with 60-52 Victory Over Charleston
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. – Senior Kelsey Buchanan (South Riding, Va.) is making the most out of her final games as a collegiate student-athlete as the senior guided the University of Delaware women's basketball team to a 60-52 win over the College of Charleston Saturday at the Show Place Arena to advance to the program's fourth straight Colonial Athletic Association Championship game.
With the win, the second-seeded and two-time defending CAA Champion Blue Hens (20-9) move on to face top-seeded James Madison (27-5) at noon Sunday with a shot to earn the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament. The contest will be carried live on Comcast SportsNet.
Buchanan set a new program CAA Tournament record with a career-best 19 rebounds against the Cougars, besting Chrissy Fisher's mark of 14 set against Northeastern on March 9, 2006.
Additionally, as a team, the Blue Hens collected 60 rebounds to tie the CAA Tournament record and overtake the program's previous record of 51 tallied against Drexel on March 7, 2002.
In addition to her 19 boards, Buchanan completed the double double with 14 points. She added a game-best five assists for Delaware.
Sophomore guard Courtni Green (at top right; Winchester, Va.) scored nine of her 15 points in the second half and added four rebounds and four assists. Fellow sophomore Joy Caracciolo (Manassas, Va.) netted seven points and grabbed 11 boards in the win.
Charleston led by one at halftime, 27-26, but never regained the lead from the 19:21 mark of the second half on.
Despite second half shooting struggles, the Cougars crept within two at 52-50, with 2:26 left.
Each squad traded possessions as the game winded down when UD turned to Buchanan with less than one minute to play. The center drained a clutch jumper with 39 seconds left pushed the lead to four points and was just enough for the Blue Hens to come out victorious.
CofC junior center Mikaela Hopkins scored eleven points to go along with eight rebounds and senior Afreyea Tolbert had 12 points and eight boards for the Cougars (17-4).
Head Coach Tina Martin
“First I’d like to congratulate the College of Charleston. In their first year in the league, they have certainly made a statement. I thought their seniors played really well and I was really impressed with them all year. Their size and veteran leadership makes them a difficult team to play. Obviously, today was a very hard fought game. Defensively, we played the best we have in weeks. It was our defense that won the game for us today.”
[On team youth]: “This team has come so far this season. We’re so young and I’m so proud of these kids as they’ve grown so much in the past few months. Nobody thought Delaware would be sitting in this position right now. We’ve climbed the mountain all year long of people not believing in us and now we have a job to finish.”
Senior Kelsey Buchanan
“Since my shots weren’t dropping, I knew I had to get on the rebounds and go after the ball. As a team, things weren’t going right in the first half, but we knew we had to stick together as it would all work itself out in the end. I’m so proud of this team. When we started the season, everything was so new to everyone. No one knew anything and I thought this was going to be a long year, but they listened and trusted the leadership and they’ve come around.”
· Delaware has won eight straight and 11 of its last 12 CAA Tournament contests.
· UD is now 21-10 all-time in the CAA Tournament.
· The Blue Hens have won at least 20 games in each of the last four seasons and 11 of the last 14.
· Earlier this season, Joy Caracciolo grabbed 19 rebounds at Rider. The mark was the most for a Blue Hen since Sharon Wisler posted 20 against Bucknell on March 5, 1989.
· Kelsey Buchanan has been a part of a CAA Championship game in each of her four seasons at Delaware.
· The College of Charleston held an 11-point advantage in the first half before the Blue Hens went on a 17-2 run over a span of 4:44 minutes.
· Sunday, March 16 – #2 Delaware vs. #1 James Madison – CAA Tournament Championship Game – Noon – Show Place Arena (Upper Marlboro, Md.)
· Further post-season play TBA