Delaware Battles Tough in CAA Tournament Title Game, Succumb to James Madison Three-Point Barrage in 67-61 Loss; Hens Await WNIT Bid
March 13, 2011
Game Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. -- The University of Delaware women's basketball team's journey to its first Colonial Athletic Association championship game up just short Sunday afternoon as a barrage of three-pointers from James Madison made the difference and the Blue Hens fell 67-61 at The Show Place Arena.
The Blue Hens (20-13), who were trying to become the first No. 7 seed to capture the title in CAA Tournament history, withstood 11 three-pointers from the top-seeded Dukes and stayed within striking distance the entire second half but could never catch up.
Delaware, which advanced to the title game thanks to a first-round win over Northeastern and upset victories over No. 2 Old Dominion in the quarterfinals and No. 3 UNC Wilmington in the semifinals, is expected to earn a berth in the Women's NIT Tournament when the field is announced late Monday night. The Hens have competed in the tournament five times since the 2001-02 season.
"We are certainly disappointed we could not win this today," said Delaware head coach Tina Martin, who has now led her teams to 20 or more wins nine times in the last 12 seasons. "Give credit to James Madison, they have four seniors and have made a great run. I'm very proud of the way our team played over the last few days. It's an empty feeling now and its hard to take, but we battled and we represented the University of Delaware very well."
Tournament Most Valuable Player Dawn Evans, the CAA Player of the Year, finished with 24 points and eight assists and drained six three-pointers and Courtney Hamner added 15 points, all on five three-pointers, to lead the attack for James Madison. The Duke (26-7), who won their second straight CAA title and the team's fifth overall, gains the CAA's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
James Madison, which won for the 17th time in the last 18 games, including a 69-64 victory over the Hens back on Feb. 20 in Newark, also got 12 points and 14 rebounds from center Lauren Jimenez and 13 more from guard Tarik Hislop.
Delaware sophomore All-American Elena Delle Donne (bottom left) led the Hens once again with 23 points, but she was harassed all day and converted just 6 of 20 shots from the field while hitting 10 of 11 free throws and adding six rebounds and four blocks. Sophomore forward Danielle Parker (top right) also came up with a big effort with 14 points and a team-high 10 rebounds while Lauren Carra contributed 12 points. Delle Donne and Parker each earned spots on the All-Tournament team. Parker posted her eighth double-double of the season.
"They did a great job defensively today," said Delle Donne, who moved her scoring average to 25.0 points per game, a mark that would lead the nation had she played in enough games. "I'm extremely disappointed. I could have done a lot more offensively for my team but it didn’t happen today. We just have to move on and get ready for the post-season."
The Blue Hens were making their third appearance in the CAA title game and their first since falling to Old Dominion 78-74 in overtime in 2005. Delaware was the lowest seed to advance to the title game since No. 7 William & Mary fell to Old Dominion. Delaware also fell to ODU in the 2003 championship game.
James Madison knocked down 8 of 13 three-pointers in the first half alone as Evans and Hamner each dropped in three. The Dukes used a 11-0 run in the early going to take control and led by as many as 14 points in the first stanza after a Hamner triple increased the lead to 35-21 with 3:04 left.
“Hamner was the difference today,” said Martin of the JMU guard. “She was able to hit those threes today and hit them when they needed them most. Her shots really hurt us.”
But Delaware, as it did all day, battled back strong. Parker hit back-to-back jumpers, Carra converted a steal at midcourt into a layup, and Delle Donne knocked down two free throws with 18 seconds left to narrow the deficit to 35-27.
A quick start in the second half brough the Hens even closer as a Parker jumper to start the half pulled the Hens to within six and consecutive baskets in the lane from Delle Donne narrowed the deficit to 39-35 with 15:28 left.
After JMU’s Hislop converted a jumper, two Parker free throws cut the gap to four once again at 41-37 less than minute later. Unfortunately, the Hens could never get closer than that the rest of the way.
Evans answered with a three-pointer and Hislop added another jumper to push the lead back to eight points and Jimenez contributed back-to-back layups to push the lead to 15 points at 59-44 at the 5:05 mark.
But once again, the Hens refused to give in. Delle Donne converted a three-point play and followed with six straight free throws as part of a 9-0 run to cut the deficit to 59-53 with 2:07. The Hens had the chance to climb even closer when James Madison turned the ball over on its next two possessions, but Delaware failed to capitalize as Delle Donne and Carra each missed shots in the lane.
Delle Donne and Carra each knocked down three-pointers in the final minute, but each time James Madison answered with two free throws to keep the Hens at bay.
“We have may have the opportunity to move on and we are excited about that,” said Martin of a potential WNIT Tournament berth. “This team has the chance win a post-season game, which none of my teams have ever accomplished. I know that this team will step after the hurt is over. This is a special group.”
Notes of Interest.....Parker and Delle Donne were joined on the All-Tournament team by Evans, Hamner, Jimenez, and VCU’s Andrea Barbour...Delle Donne misfired on a first-half free throw, snapping her school record streak of 52 straight makes....Carra, Parker, Bailey and Kabonog all tied a UD record by playing in their 33rd game this season ... Carra also set the UD single season minutes played mark at 1,106, breaking the mark of 1,097 set by current UD assistant coach Tiara Malcom in 2004-05.Back To Women's Basketball Home Women's Basketball Story Archives