Hens Battle Tough in First Half With Vanderbilt, Fall in Opener of Hilton Garden Inn Hokie Classic 72-51
File Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell • top right, Vanessa Kabongo, bottom left Lauren Carra
BLACKSBURG, Va. – Facing a team that has advanced to the NCAA tournament in each of the last eight seasons, the University of Delaware women’s basketball team battled tough against the Southeastern Conference’s Vanderbilt University on Wednesday evening. But the Blue Hens fell 72-51 in the opening game of the 2010 Hilton Garden Inn Hokie Classic in Cassell Coliseum.
“I thought out kids went in there and tried to battle,” said Blue Hen head coach Tina Martin, whose team faced Vanderbilt for the first time in program history. “They’re a good team, Vanderbilt is a very good team.”
Delaware, which slipped to 6-4 on the season, held 13-7 lead at the 11:13, courtesy of a pair of free throws from Jocelyn Bailey. The Commodores, who improved to 9-3, rattled off 21 unanswered points, building to a 28-13 lead before Bailey canned a midrange jumper to stop the run.
The Hens pulled back within 12 points of the lead at the end of the half after freshman Kelsey Buchanan snagged a rebound and got the pass up to Lauren Carra for the layup. The Commodores carried a 35-23 point lead into the break.
Bench play was a big factor in Vanderbilt’s lead, as it got 22 points from substitutes, while they Hens had zero. The Commodore’s also held the rebounding advantage, 21-12 going into halftime. Delaware managed four offensive boards, resulting in five second-chance points.
“We tried to attack the rim,” said Martin. “We turned it over, certainly too many times in the first half, but overall I gotta tell the kids, we did battle.”
In the second half, Vanderbilt, which was ranked as high as 23 in both the AP and USA Today/ESPN Polls, continued to run the court, eventually holding a 25-point advantage at the 6:01 mark of the second half. The Hens got a majority of their 28 second half points by working the paint, picking up 18 points in the key.
The Blue Hens had two players reach double-digits in points, led by Vanessa Kabongo’s 15, followed by Carra’s 12. Angela Puleo, who tied Kabongo for the game high at 15 points, led Vanderbilt. Puleo did all her damage from beyond the arc, going five-for-five from deep.
After struggling at the free throw line in its game versus Saint Joseph’s last Wednesday, Delaware got back on target, hitting 12 of its 16 attempts, going 75.0 percent for the game, including six-for-six in the first half. Kabongo, Bailey and Buchanan each hit three free throws, with Kabongo leading the team at three-for-three.
Every player who was dressed for the Hens saw playing time, including a career-high five minutes for sophomore Chelsea Craig. A rookie, Buchanan played in 14 minutes, posting career-high seven points.
Carra and Kabongo finished the night combining for 27 shots, with Kabongo going six of 13 while Carra nailed five of her 14 attempts. Bailey and Riddick led the Hens on the boards with five apiece.
Delaware will face Alcorn State (1-7) in the consolation game, set to begin at 5 p.m. in Cassell Coliseum. Virginia Tech (8-4) defeated the Braves 87-44.
The Hokies had four players reach double digits, led by Shanel Harrison and her 13 points. Monet Tellier posted 12 points while Nikki Davis and Aerial Wilson put up 11 and 10, respectively. Taylor Ayers was the game's leading rebounder, pulling down seven boards.
The championship game will feature Vanderbilt against Virginia Tech at 7 p.m. Both games will be played in Cassell Coliseum. Following the conclusion of the second game, the All Tournament Team will be announced.Back To Women's Basketball Home Women's Basketball Story Archive