Delaware Completes Perfect Home Season as Delle Donne Nets 35 to Lead #9 Blue Hens Past Northeastern 89-71
NEWARK, Del. -- The No. 9 ranked University of Delaware women's basketball squad completed a perfect home season Sunday afternoon as Elena Delle Donne (at right) netted 35 points and Lauren Carra contributed 18 in the Blue Hens' record-setting 89-71 Colonial Athletic Association victory over Northeastern at the Bob Carpenter Center.
Delaware (26-1, 17-0 CAA) completed a perfect home season record of 12-0 as the Hens treated a sellout crowd of 5,043 to a special Senior Day victory. The Hens posted their first undefeated regular season home record since the 2006-07 season and their first undefeated home schedule for all games since the 2000-01 campaign when the team went 11-0 at the BCC.
The victory was Delaware's 16th straight on the season, the 14th straight home win dating back to last season, the school-record 18th straight regular season conference victory since last year, and the 21st straight victory over CAA foe Northeastern since the 1999-2000 campaign.
The Blue Hens also posted their 26th win of the season, tying the program record for victories set by the 2000-01 and 2006-07 squads that each advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Delaware remains one of just four NCAA Division I teams in the nation with just one loss or less - joining No. 1 ranked Baylor (29-0), Stanford (26-1), and Green Bay (25-1).
"The bottom line is that at this point in the year, a win is a win," said 16th year head coach Tina Martin, whose team will close out the regular season Feb. 29 at William & Mary. "We have the chance to become the first CAA team in a decade to go undefeated (Old Dominion went 18-0 in 2001-02). We started something special and now its time to finish it. For the players, its a dream come true. This is an atmosphere every coach and college player would dream of playing in. They are living the dream right now and I hope these fans that have supported us magnificently will continue to support us through this run."
Delle Donne, who surpassed the 30-point mark for the 11th time this season, scored 19 of her game-high 35 points in the opening half as the Blue Hens jumped out to a 47-30 halftime lead and stayed in front by at least 11 points the rest of the way. The nation's leading scorer at 28.1 points per game, Delle Donne hit on 14 of 24 shots from the field, knocked down three three-pointers, and pulled seven rebounds.
Carra (at left), a junior guard, added 18 points including four three-pointers, while forward Danielle Parker added seven points and nine rebounds. Delaware shot a sizzling 52.2 percent from the field (36 of 69), hit 8 of 19 three-pointers, and held a commanding 42-24 advantage on the boards.
Northeastern (7-21, 5-12), which had a three-game win streak snapped, placed three scorers in double figures as Jewel Tunstall led the way with 20 points, Deanna Kerkhof scored 17 points, and Jamie Conroy added 12 points and a game-high eight assists.
The Huskies led for much of the first seven minutes of the game and took what proved to be their final lead at 12-11 on a jumper by A’lece Mark with 12:47 left in the opening half. But Delle Donne scored three straight baskets to start an 18-4 run in which she netted 11 points. That run pushed the UD lead to 13 points at 29-16 and the Hens went into halftime up 47-30 thanks to 19 of 38 shooting from the field.
Delaware held a comfortable lead for the remainder of the game, pushing the margin to as many as 23 points at 62-39 on a Delle Donne layup with 15:09 left to play. The Huskies continued to battle hard and narrowed the gap to 11 points at 77-66 on a Dani Iervolino three-pointer with 4:40 remaining. But the Hen responded by scoring 10 of the next 12 points and the Huskies could never get closer.
Delle Donne was joined the starting lineup by the team’s four seniors - guards Vanessa Kabongo and Meghan McLean, center Sarah Acker, and forward Jocelyn Bailey. Kabongo, McLean, and Acker each got their first start of the season.
"These seniors, they get it,” said Martin, whose team is one of the few in the national Top 25 that start all underclassmen. “They understand what it means to be a winner. I don't usually start seniors (backups on Senior Day), I'm usually about earning things, but I thought about these seniors and how much they deserve it. It was their reward. Attitude is a huge part of success. It can't be a good team team without chemistry and good attitudes, and these seniors show that."
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