Delaware's Season Comes to An End With Heartbreaking 58-55 Loss To Toledo in WNIT First Round
March 16, 2011
Photo Courtesy of Jason Mack
TOLEDO, Ohio – Following a spirited run to the Colonial Athletic Association championship game and a berth in the Women's National Invitation Tournament, the University of Delaware women's basketball season came to a close Wednesday night.
A trio of three-pointers over the final three minutes helped host University of Toledo overcome a late eight-point deficit and move on to a 58-55 victory over Delaware in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament at John F. Savage Arena. The Hens failed in their attempt to post their first WNIT victory in six tries.
Rocket forward Jessica Williams hit a trey with 53 seconds left to put Toledo up for good at 55-53 and Andola Dortch canned a pair of free throws with eight seconds left to seal the victory for the regular season Mid-American Conference champion Rockets (24-8), who will move on to face either Auburn or Tennessee Tech in the second round.
"We had some really good looks at the end," said Delaware head coach Tina Martin, who guided her squad to its second-straight 20 win season (20-14) and ninth since she took over the program in 1996. "We just had too many open shots that we missed. With about three minutes left, we had some really good looks, but didn't put the ball in the basket, and you have to be able to put the ball in the basket."
Delaware's offense was led once again by sophomore first team All-Colonial Athletic Association selection and All-American Elena Delle Donne, who dropped in 31 points on 10-of-24 shooting from the field. She also converted all nine of her free throw attempts as she surpassed the 30-point for the third time in six games and for the eighth time this season.
Fellow sophomore Danielle Parker grabbed a team-high 11 boards and added 10 points to record her second straight double-double and ninth of the season. Parker, Lauren Carra, and Vanessa Kabongo all played in their 34th contest this season, breaking the previous school record of 33.
As a unit, the Hens were strong at the free throw line, missing just one attempt and going 15-of-16 as a team. Delaware knocked down 19 of its 49 field goals, going 38.8 percent from the floor. The Hens utilized their inside game, putting up 28 points in the paint.
Yolanda Richardson scored a team-high 14 on seven-of-11 shooting for Toledo while Dortch posted 13 points, nine of which came from outside the arc, along with four free throws. Dortch went a perfect three-for-three from deep and four of six from the line. Toledo shot 20-of-55 from the field, launching 27 three-pointers and connecting on nine of them from long-range.
Delaware edged the Rockets on the glass by a 36-33 margin, including 13 offensive boards for the Hens and 15 for Toledo. Each team posted 12 second-chance points.
In the first-ever meeting between these two teams, Delaware had a six-point lead with 4:51 left when Jaquetta May squeezed by two defenders and hit a jumper. A pair of free throws from Delle Donne increased the Hen's lead to eight, 51-43 with three minutes to go.
Naama Shafir connected on a pair of free throws to cut the lead to six. Less than a minute later, Williams, who did not hit a three pointer the entire first half, hit one of her three in the second half with 2:35 left on the clock, pulling the Rockets back within three, 51-48.
Shafir got the Rockets within two points of the lead on a free throw, but missed her chance to get her squad within one point when the second attempt would not fall. Delle Donne knocked down another pair of free throws to regain a four-point lead with two minutes left for the Hens.
But the Hens' bid for their first-ever postseason victory was not to be as Williams canned her second trey in two minutes to grab the lead for good.
"It was tough," said Martin, who took her team to its second straight WNIT Tournament and their ixth since 2002. "In the first half, we gave them the six-point lead. I went with Eva Riddick in the second half and she stepped up like a senior in the second half. I know Eva is limited offensively, but we got back in the game with her on defense."
Riddick capped her four-year career with the Blue Hens by appearing in her 116th career game, the sixth most all-time in Delaware history. She tallied two big rebounds for Delaware to help UD gain momentum and also came up with a steal.
Down 29-23 at the half, the Blue Hens put together a a 9-0 run, starting with a Delle Donne three-pointer at the 16:17 mark. Delaware regained the lead with 10:29, but the momentum was short-lived before Williams knocked down her first deep shot of the day to give Toledo a 39-38 lead with 10:14 left on the clock.
The Rockets posted 16 points over the final six minutes while holding Delaware to just 11 to finish the game. Toledo's defense locked down the Delaware shooters, not allowing a Blue Hen field goal over the final 4:51 of the game. Delaware got its final six points of the game at the free throw line as the Hens missed their final five shots from the field.
Delle Donne blocked a game-high three shots, extending her streak of games with at least one block to 15 straight, dating back to January 30.
For the second straight game, the Hens reached double digits in team assists, getting two each from Bailey, Carra, May and McLean and one each from Riddick and Delle Donne. Free throw shooting was key to Delaware’s offense, which ran off 11 consecutive made attempts at the line in the second half.
The future is bright for Delaware, which returns all five of its starters - Delle Donne, Parker, Bailey, Kabongo, and Carra - for the 2011-12 season.Back To Women's Basketball Home Women's Basketball Story Archives