Delle Donne Explodes for 37 Points, Sets All-Time Scoring Mark as #21 Delaware Cruises Past Towson 74-51
Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell
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NEWARK, Del. -- It was the Elena Delle Donne Show at the Bob Carpenter Center once again Thursday night as the Blue Hen All-American exploded for 37 points and became the school's all-time career scoring leader as No. 21 ranked Delaware cruised past Towson for a 74-51 Colonial Athletic Association women’s basketball victory.
The 6-5 forward from Wilmington, Del. connected on 16 of 22 shots from the field, knocked down three three-pointers, pulled nine rebounds, and blocked four shots as the Blue Hens (11-1, 2-0 CAA), playing at home for the first time in a month, bounced back from their first loss of the season Dec. 29 at No. 5 Maryland.
The game was played in front of an enthusiastic season-high crowd of 3,804 with most of those in attendance keeping track of Delle Donne’s point total on the scoreboard as she got closer to the record. Delle Donne received a standing ovation when she set the mark on a jumper with 11:54 left (at right) to play and again when she was recognized during the next media timeout.
“We match hard work with talent and when they meet it’s magic,” said Delaware head coach Tina Martin (bottom left in middle) after the win. “I got after them at the half because I didn’t think we were as intense as we needed to be. In the second half, it looked more like Delaware basketball. Towson is a good team and we stepped up in the second half. Elena is the type of player who can score in bunches and in so many ways. Points and records don't phase Elena, it's just one more accolade she deserves. She just came out there and played and led her team to victory. She's a competitor and she's going to try to give this team her A-game every time.”
Delaware junior guard Lauren Carra chipped in with 10 points and senior guard Jocelyn Bailey (at left) came off the bench to contribute 10 points and eight rebounds as the Hens overcame a sluggish first half and pulled away midway through the second stanza.
The Hens, who downed Towson for the fourth straight time an for the 12th time in the last 14 meetings, shot a sizzling 18 of 29 from the field in the second half (62.1 percent) and finished the night connecting on 32 of 62 shots from the field (51.6 percent) and on 5 of 13 three-pointers.
Towson (10-3, 1-1 CAA), whose only losses this season have come to nationally-ranked Connecticut, Maryland, and Delaware, had both a six-game win streak and a four-game road winning streak snapped. The Tigers have been one of the CAA's biggest surprises after being picked to finish 11th in the league in the pre-season polls.
Tanisha McTiller led the Tigers with 16 points while Deree Fooks added 10 points and nine rebounds and Krystal Parnell chipped in with 10 points. The Tigers shot just 34.5 percent from the field (20 of 58) and committed 18 turnovers.
Delle Donne, the nation's leading scorer at 28.8 points per game, surpassed the 20-point mark for the 17th straight game and went over 30 points for the sixth time this season.
She broke the previous Delaware scoring record held by Cindy Johnson (at left in photo), who scored 1,675 points in 1997-01. Johnson, who was Martin’s first recruit, was on hand at the game to help honor Delle Donne. Delle Donne set the record in just her 63rd career game while Johnson needed 113 games to reach the scoring mark.
“I wasn't really thinking about it,” said Delle Donne when asked about the scoring record. “It wasn't about the record, it was about doing what we needed to do to get the win. Coach Martin said at halftime that the only positive was that we were winning, and I completely agreed with her on that. It’s a wake-up call that any team can be phenomenal and you can't sleep walk through conference games. I always put honors behind any game, and I wouldn't have been able to do it without my teammates’ passes. It was good to be home.”
Delaware, playing for the first time since an 85-76 setback to Maryland back on Dec. 29, came out sluggish and led just 30-23 at the half, posting their lowest point total for an opening half this season.
Towson tied the score early at 5-5 and never trailed by more than eight points until the final two minutes. Two free throws by Fooks with seven seconds left cut the Delaware lead to 28-23 and the Hens took the seven-point lead into intermission on a Delle Donne jumper just before the first half buzzer.
Towson narrowed the margin down to five points several times in the opening minutes of the second stanza, pulling to within 34-29 on two free throws by Parnell with 16:23 left to play.
Delaware responded with a 10-2 run, led by Delle Donne’s six points and Bailey’s four, to push the lead back to double digits at 44-31 with 14:02 remaining.
A three-point play by Towson’s Parnell narrowed the Delaware lead back to nine points, but Delaware again responded, scoring seven straight points to go up by 16 points at 53-37 with 9:54 left. Towson never got closer than 14 points the rest of the way.
The Blue Hens return to action Sunday when they travel to George Mason for a 2 p.m. CAA contest.