Delaware, Delle Donne Pull Off Stunner as Blue Hens Bring Down No. 11 Penn State with 80-71 Victory
Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell
NEWARK, Del. -- The upstart University of Delaware women's basketball squad pulled off the biggest upset in school history Thursday night as the Blue Hens brought down No. 11 ranked Penn State with an 80-71 victory before an enthusiastic crowd at the Bob Carpenter Center.
Backed by another brilliant performance from All-American Elena Delle Donne (at right), the Blue Hens (2-0) made history by defeating their highest ranked opponent in school history.
Delaware had knocked off a Top 25 team just two other times in school history in 28 previous tries, including an 86-70 win over No. 20 Kentucky during the 2006-07 season and a 77-67 victory over then No. 22 James Madison at the BCC on Feb. 22, 2007.
But this victory was even more impressive thanks to the brilliance of Delle Donne, some timely shooting from Trumae Lucas (below left), and an all-around gutsy effort by the Blue Hens. After completing the upset, many of the crowd of 3,352 rushed the court to join the celebration.
Delle Donne scored 25 of her game-high 40 points in the second half as Delaware recovered from an eight-point deficit midway through the second half with a big final flurry. Her 40 points set a BCC record and was the third highest total in school history, trailing only her school-record 54-point performance at James Madison on Feb. 18, 2010 and her 41-point explosion against Yale on Nov. 20, 2010.
“I’m giving the game ball to Elena since I called on her so much tonight," said Delaware head coach Tina Martin. "She deserves it, but so does the whole team. It's sweet to be a Blue Hen tonight. I'm just so happy for everyone. Play after play we learned some things about ourselves tonight and stuck together. Just to play a top-ranked team on our floor and to take a hit and come back and win is incredible.”
Delle Donne, a 6-5 junior forward who poured in 33 points in the season-opening 89-53 win over Rhode Island last Friday, played every minute of the game and enjoyed another outstanding performance Thursday as she connected on 15 of 23 shots from the field and 10 of 12 from the foul line for 40 points. She also pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds, blocked four shots, and did not commit a turnover.
"That's something you see on ESPN," said Delle Donne, reacting to the fans celebrating on the court. "We're in shock but we are definitely soaking it all in. But we have to remember it's only the second game of the season and there is still a lot to work on. We are going to enjoy this night but we're going to come back tomorrow ready to go."
Lucas added 15 points to aid the Blue Hen effort, including several big three-pointers in the second half. Jocelyn Bailey came off the bench to add eight points and seven rebounds while Danielle Parker chipped in with seven points and nine hard-fought rebounds.
Penn State (2-1), the Big 10 Conference favorite and a perennial national contender, had opened the season with wins over Washington State and Middle Tennessee to win their own Lady Lion Invitational and had moved up to No. 11 in the Associated Press national poll this week.
The Nittany Lions placed three scorers in double figures Thursday night led by Alex Bentley's 20 points and game-high nine assists, 15 points from Zhaque Gray, and 12 points from Maggie Lucas. Talia East came off the bench to pull down 11 boards but fouled out with six minutes left to play.
The Lions shot just 38.2 percent from the field for the game (26 of 68) and managed to finish off just 11 of 38 shots in the second half (28.9 percent), including just 4 of 15 shooting from long-range. Conversely, the Hens drained half of their second half shots from the field (15 of 30) and finished the night 21 of 26 from the foul line. Delaware also held a narrow 40-38 advantage on the boards.
Delaware stormed out to a quick 15-3 lead in the first four minutes, but Penn State recovered and eventually tied things up. After five lead changes in that first 20 minutes, Penn State took a 35-32 lead into the break and increased the margin to as many eight points in the second half, going up 51-43 with 12:11 left to play on a three-pointer by Gray.
But the Hens proved that they could bounce back too. Delle Donne sandwiched a three-point play and a short jumper around a big three-pointer by Lucas to knot the score at 51-51 with 9:15 left to play. The teams battled hard for the next three minutes, changing leads six times and tying the contest up four times in that short span.
Delaware took the lead for good when Bailey finished off a layup with 6:25 left to give the Hens a 63-62 advantage. Parker followed with a free throw and Delle Donne converted a jumper to push the lead to four at 66-62. Penn State’s Gray and Delaware’s Lucas traded free throws to keep the UD lead at four and Delle Donne added to that advantage with a jumper at the 3:51 mark to push the lead to six.
But Penn State was not ready to give up just yet. Bentley followed with a layup and Gray drained a three-pointer just 35 seconds apart to narrow the gap to one-point again at 70-69 with 3:15 left.
However, the Hens took over from there. Layups from Delle Donne and Bailey around a missed jumper and a turnover by Penn State, pushed the lead to 74-69. Delle Donne, Lucas, and Lauren Carra then kept the Lions at bay as each converted two free throws in the final 63 seconds to preserve the win.
Delaware will look to continue its hot streak next Tuesday, Nov. 22, when the Hens head to Villanova for a battle with the Big East Wildcats at 7 p.m.Back To Women's Basketball Home Women's Basketball Story Archives