Sweeter the Second Time Around:
Blue Hens Capture Colonial Athletic Association Championship Again with 59-56 Victory Over Drexel
March 17, 2013
Photos Courtesy of Mark Campbell
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UPPER MARLBORO, Md. -- Thesecond time is even sweeter.
It wasn’t an easy victory by any stretch, but the University of Delaware women’s basketball squad got what it came for Sunday afternoon as the No. 15 ranked Blue Hens claimed their second straight Colonial Athletic Association Tournament title with a hard-fought 59-56 victory over Drexel at The Show Place Arena.
The top-seeded Blue Hens (30-3) completed their second straight perfect season through the CAA as they extended their school-record season win streak to 25 straight games, upped their overall win streak to 42 straight over conference opponents, and clinched their second straight 30-win season.
All-American Elena Delle Donne, who scored 21 points each in the Hens’ quarterfinal and semifinal wins earlier in the week, captured her second straight CAA Tournament Most Valuable Player Award as she scored 28 points and pulled five rebounds to lead the Blue Hens.
Trumae Lucas was just as important as she came off the bench to add 12 points and earn her spot on the All-Tournament team. Lauren Carra (at left) pulled down a team-high 10 points and dished out six assists while Kayla Miller handed out five assists herself.
“When the buzzer sounded, I was the happiest person in the United States of America,” said Delaware head coach Tina Martin, who has now led her teams to three conference tournament titles and four NCAA Tournament appearances. “We’ve worked so hard for this and it’s incredibly hard to go undefeated two years back to back. I’m so thankful to be a champion again.”
Just as they had done two weeks ago in a 62-57 win over Drexel, Delaware had to work extra hard for the victory as the Blue Hens needed two free throws each from Delle Donne and Lucas in the final 44 seconds to clinch the win.
The Hens managed just one field goal over the final seven minutes of action as Drexel (22-10) rallied back from a 17-point second half deficit by using a 24-7 run to take the lead at 56-55 with 1:07 left.
But Lucas (below right) hit her two free throws with 44 seconds left to give the Hens the lead for good and Delle Donne knocked down the deciding shots with just nine seconds left.
Drexel failed to scorein its final two possessions as Abby Redick was called for traveling with 19 seconds left and Hollie Mershon turned the ball over in the final seconds, setting off a wild celebration on the court that included many of the partisan Blue Hen crowd.
“I stepped up to the line and was confident that I was going to knock them down,”said Lucas of her clutch free throws. “My teammates were 100 percent behind me. I didn’t think about the fact that I needed to put us back in the lead, I went up there and shot them like normal free throws.”
Drexel, which fell to Delaware in the title game for the second straight year, got 21 points from Taylor Wootton, including 12 points from three-point range, and 18 from Mershon in the loss. Mershon also dished out nine assists and drained three pointers.
The Dragons, who fell to Delaware for the seventh straight time, knocked down 10 three-pointers in 25 attempts during the game, including seven in the second half as part of their comeback.
The Blue Hens now head to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year and will host first and second round games at the Bob Carpenter Center on March 24-26. The 64-team NCAA Tournament field will be announced on Monday night, March 18, at 7 p.m.
Drexel scored the game’s first basket but the Hens reeled off 13 of the next 15 to take a 13-5 lead and led the rest of the way. Drexel used a late seven-point run, with six coming from Mershon, to cut the lead to 28-27, but the Hens went into intermission up 30-27 when Miller rebounded a missed three-pointer by Lucas and hit a layup right before the buzzer.
The Blue Hens used that momentum in a big way in the second half as they came flying out of the gates, scoring the first 11 points of the frame, including five from Delle Donne (at left), and held Drexel scoreless for the first 4:22 to take their biggest up to that point at 41-27.
Delaware later upped the lead to 17 points at 46-29 on a Delle Donne drive and still led 48-32 after two Delle Donne free throws with 12:50 left.
But the Dragons caught fire from there as they reeled off 13 straight points, including two three-pointers by Wootton, to narrow the deficit to 48-45. Delle Donne snapped a string of over seven minutes without a field goal for Delaware with a bank shot with 7:19 left but Merson answered with a three-pointer to pull Drexel to within 50-48.
Delaware’s Akeema Richards hustled to make a steal at midcourt and converted it into a three-point play with 6:17 remaining to extend the Delaware lead to 53-48, but Drexel again answered the call as Mershon hit a three-pointer and Wootton followed with a jumper to tie the score at 53-53 with 1:52 left.
After Delle Donne knocked down two free throws to give Delaware the lead back, Drexel gained its first advantage since 2-0 when Wooton buried a three-pointer for a 56-55 Drexel advantage with 1:07 left.
Delaware then grabbed the lead for good as Lucas calmly drained two free throws with 44 seconds left and the Hens got the ball back when Redick got caught in a crowd in the lane and traveled while looking to pass. Delle Donne then iced the win with her two free throws at the nine-second mark.
Drexel had one last chance to tie but Mershon turned the ball over with four seconds left with Lucas picking up the steal.
The Blue Hens will gather for a Watch Party to view the NCAA Tournament Selection Show televised live on ESPN Sunday at 7 p.m. at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Newark. The event is open to all UD women's basketball season ticket holders and students. Doors will open at 6 p.m.Back To Women's Basketball Home Women's Basketball Story Archives