NEWARK, Del. --The first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship is officially complete and the No. 6 seeded University of Delaware advanced Sunday afternoon to host No. 3 University of North Carolina at 7 p.m. Tuesday at a sold-out Bob Carpenter Center.
The Blue Hens (31-3) defeated No. 11 seeded West Virginia (17-14) Sunday by a tune of 66-53 while UNC (29-6) put up a narrow 59-54 win over No. 14 seeded Albany (27-4).
Both teams are ranked nationally, with the Tar Heels in the 13th spot in the AP Top 25 while UD is 15th in the poll.
Delaware head coach Tina Martin (at top right) and her coaching staff took little to no time to enjoy Sunday’s victory as they immediately went into preparation mode for the Tar Heels.
“We are really focused on this next game,” Martin remarked Monday at the team’s press conference. “After the game yesterday, we had a coaches’ meeting and watched a lot of tape on North Carolina. Hopefully, we will put our best foot forward and play good basketball tomorrow.”
The Blue Hens, who won their second straight Colonial Athletic Association Championship last weekend, are making their fourth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and second to the round of 32.
Last season, Delaware picked up its first NCAA Tournament victory in school history with a 73-42 win over the University of Arkansas – Little Rock.
With a win Tuesday over North Carolina, UD would travel to Bridgeport, Conn. for a Sweet 16 contest Saturday, the furthest a team has advanced in the NCAA Tournament in school history.
“To reach the Sweet 16 would be huge for our program and our seven seniors,” stated Lauren Carra. “We made a goal as a team to reach to the Sweet 16 and get past the second round. Right now, we are just looking to take it one game at a time and just focus on our game tomorrow.”
The Hens are led by three-time CAA Player of the Year and two-time All-American Elena Delle Donne, who has put up 25.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game this season. The forward contributed a game-high 33 points for Delaware against WVU yesterday.
Delle Donne is currently 27 points away from becoming just the ninth player in NCAA Women’s Basketball history to reach the 3,000-career point mark.
Carra is second on the team with 10.9 points while fellow senior Danielle Parker adds 8.7 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
UNC is looking for its 16th trip to the regional semifinals in program history. The Tar Heels lost in the ACC Championship game, 92-73, to Duke.
They are led on-court by senior guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, who averages 15.8 points and 4.4 assists per game.
Senior Waltiea Rolle and freshman Xylina McDaniel also put up double digits with 11.7 and 11.4 points per game, respectively. Senior Krista Gross leads the team with an average of 8.5 rebounds per contest.
“North Carolina is definitely quick and strong,” commented Delle Donne. “They have some great players. We have to rebound the ball as they crash the boards. We also have to take care of the basketball because they like to pressure the ball and go for steals.”
“It’s all about preparation and we have done that so far,” Parker said. “We are going to go over some things like taking care of the ball, but it’s all about preparation at this point for us.”
Tickets for all Tuesday’s game are sold out, but it will be featured nationally on ESPN2 in addition to online at ESPN3.com/Watch ESPN.
Pam Ward (play-by-play) and Rebecca Lobo (color analyst) will have the call for the broadcast.