Delle Donne Leads No. 12 Blue Hens To Ninth Straight Win as Delaware Holds Off UNCW, 62-53
File Photo Courtesy of Mark Campbell
WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Blue Hen junior All-American Elena Delle Donne recorded her seventh double-double of the season with game-highs of 29 points and 14 rebounds as the 12th-ranked University of Delaware women's basketball team won its ninth straight game with a 62-53 victory over UNCW Thursday night at Trask Colisem.
Delaware, one of just five teams nationally with one loss or less this season, won its third straight game over UNCW, including a 69-37 triumph in Newark three weeks ago.
UNCW, which hadn’t lost since that setback to the Blue Hens on Jan. 12, had a five-game winning streak snapped while falling to 13-8 overall and 6-4 in league play.
The nation’s leading scorer with 28.4 points per game, Delle Donne surpassed the 20-point mark for the 19th time of the season as she went 11 of 22 from the field and added a team-high four assists, three blocks, and two steals on the day.
Junior forward Danielle Parker added 12 points and nine rebounds as she narrowly missed a double-double for the Blue Hens, who held a commanding 45-32 rebounding advantage. Akeema Richards chipped in with eight points for the Hens and Trumae Lucas added seven. The Blue Hens shot just 41.0 percent from the field and went just 11 of 18 from the free throw line despite entering the game leading the country with an 83.1 percentage from the charity stripe.
UNCW was led by Karneshia Garnett who posted a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Abria Trice was the second Seahawk in double figures, scoring 10 points to go with three rebounds, while Tawanna Lee contributed eight points for UNCW, which shot just 34.5 percent from the floor. The Seahawks entered the game leading the CAA with 11.1 steals per game and were held under a 9-3 steal advantage by the Hens, who trailed for nearly half of the first half before taking a one-point lead halftime lead at 27-26.
“I thought UNCW came out with a lot of fire and did some different things from how they played us last time and we had to make adjustments,” said head coach Tina Martin, who is now one win away from ranking second in the all-time CAA coaches’ wins after notching her 142nd CAA victory tonight. “UNCW is one of the most improved teams in the league. They are playing well together as a team now and it was a very tough game for us today on the road. I wasn’t happy with our lack of adjustments in the first half. In the second half, we battled a lot more. This conference is so good and you have to come to battle. We struggled, but we toughed it out and we are fortunate to come out with a victory.”
The Blue Hens started out with another quick 4-0 start following a Parker basket and two free-throws from Lucas, but would not reach a larger lead for the remainder of the first half of the game.
The first half was tight through the first 10 minutes, before a 6-0 UNCW run gave the Seahawks a 20-13 lead at the 7:18 mark on a Chelsea McGowen layup.
However Delaware quickly responded with 10 unanswered points, including seven points that ended with a three-pointer from Delle Donne, to regain the Blue Hen lead at 23-20 with 3:57 to play in the half.
The Seahawks answered with back-to-back three’s from Gamby and Lee to take their final lead of the first half during a tightly contested end to the period. A jumper by Parker with 19 seconds on the clock gave the Blue Hens a slim 27-26 advantage at the break.
Delaware came out hot with an 8-2 run in the second half, building a 35-28 advantage over the Seahawks with 16:15 to play in the game.
The Blue Hens led by as many as eight following consecutive Delle Donne jumpers, before Garrett and Gamby each scored inside to cut the Delaware advantage to 39-35 with 12:18 to play.
However Delle Donne and Lucas answered for UD, and after the Seahawks pulled within five, Parker and Delle Donne each connected to make it a 49-40 game with seven minutes remaining.
It was still a nine-point game when Lauren Carra hit a free throw for her first point of the game to put the Blue Hens up 52-43, but two free throws by McGowen and a jumper by Alisha Andrews brought UNCW within 52-47 with 3:46 to play.
The Seahawks twice got as close as four points, the second at 55-51 following a McGowen layup with 2:20 left, but UNCW would not score again for over two minutes as Delaware put the game away. Delle Donne hit a jumper to make it a six-point game, and after Richards converted a reverse layup, Delle Donne connected twice at the foul line to make it 61-51 with 32 seconds to go.
“They were definitely letting us play tonight, but things happen and you have to fight and get through it. We really had to pick up the intensity in the second half and punch them back,” said All-American Elena Delle Donne, who is already the school’s all-time leading scorer and now stands just one point shy of 1,900 for her career. “I like the way we battled in the second half. We were sleep walking in first half, so I’m glad we were able to wake up. It’s been a really tough stretch but I’m very thankful to play at home next. It’s great to play at the Bob and we miss our fans.”
Delaware returns to the Bob Carpenter Center for a two-game home stand in CAA action. The Hens take on VCU on Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. for a special “Dare to be Strong” health awareness night before challenging Old Dominion on Feb. 9 for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
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