Blue Hens Treat Sellout Crowd to Another Victory as Richards Leads #16 Delaware to 60-49 Win over Rival Drexel
Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell
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NEWARK, Del. -- A capacity crowd cheered the University of Delaware women's basketball squad to its sixth straight victory Sunday afternoon as Akeema Richards (at right) recorded her first career double-double with 14 points and a career-high 10 rebounds and All-American Elena Delle Donne dropped in 21 points in a 60-49 Colonial Athletic Association women's basketball win over rival Drexel at the Bob Carpenter Center.
The No. 16 ranked Blue Hens (16-1, 7-0 CAA) remained atop the CAA standings as they pulled away from a four-point halftime lead and rolled to the victory with a solid second half.
The game was played before a sellout crowd of 5,021 that included Vice-President Joe Biden and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell. The crowd set a UD single game home attendance record for the Blue Hen women for a game that was not part of a doubleheader. It broke the previous record of 4,772 set vs. Old Dominion on Feb. 11, 2005.
Delle Donne (at left), the nation's leading scorer with 28.4 points per game, and Richards were among four Blue Hen scorers in double figures. Lauren Carra added 10 points and seven rebounds and Danielle Parker (bottom right) contributed 10 points and five rebounds. Delle Donne also pulled down seven rebounds and recorded three blocks while Richards also dished out four assists.
"We know each other so well," said Delaware head coach Tina Martin of the rivalry with Drexel, which the Hens now lead 42-23. "We’re 35 miles apart and all the games are like this. To win by double figures speaks volumes about this team. Drexel put up a good fight and we put in an excellent defensive effort. This is a game when you get good, intense basketball. We have a target on our backs and people are coming after us. Its great to have four people in double figures today. These kids play their hearts out for Delaware and they deserve that respect."
Drexel (9-8, 5-2 CAA), which could have moved into a tie for first place in the league standings with a win, had a four-game win streak snapped and was held to a season-low 49 points. The Dragons shot just 31.4 percent from the field for the game (22 of 70) and converted just 3 of 26 three-point attempts.
Forward Kamile Nacickaite led the Dragons with 12 points and six rebounds while Tyler Hale added 10 points and six boards.
The Blue Hens scored the first 10 points of the game and led by as many as 11 points early while controlling the first 15 minutes. But Drexel rallied over the final five minutes of the half and used a 10-2 run to pull to within 22-20 with 2:48 left.
Delle Donne knocked down a jumper with 1:39 left in the first half to send the Hens into halftime up 24-20. The 24 points marked the Hens' lowest first half total of the season as they hit just 11 of 28 shots for the stanza.
Drexel stayed in the game for the first 11 minutes of the second half and narrowed the gap to 36-33 after a three-pointer by Hollie Mershon with 12:58 left capped a 7-1 run.
But Delaware recovered quickly as Carra started a 13-4 run with a three-point play and Delle Donne hit back-to-back baskets to give the Hens a 49-37 lead with 7:23 remaining. Drexel never got closer than eight points the rest of the way.
"Our fans were amazing and it was an honor for Joe Biden to be here," said Martin. "The crowd provided so much energy and gave the team such a lift today."
The Hens will return to action Thursday when they host Hofstra (14-4, 6-1 CAA) in another battle for first place in the CAA standings.